The Hillary Watts Riot
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The Hillary Watts Riot

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | SELF

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Album review: The Hillary Watts Riot - A/S/L"

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you might as well dance. I mean, you can try to avoid it if you want, but for your own sake I suggest you get down. As the overused meme states, do it like no one is watching. Might I also suggest you do so to the retro rampage sounds of The Hillary Watts Riot. With equal parts Prince, Blondie, and Devo, the band’s own sultry brand of freak pop is sure to get your hips moving.

Straight out of some sort of half-swank/half-skank dive bar of late ’20s Chicago, the only thing A/S/L is missing is a 16-piece big band and an untimely bust by the prohibition police. Couple that with the tendency to thematically slip toward R-rated cheekiness. I bet Quentin Tarantino would love to take a stab at writing an accompanying movie for these songs. It could be the tale of the slightly nerdy girl from high school, the one with mussed stockings; her thick-rimmed, cat-eyed glasses always buried in a romance novel. Later, you’ll find out online that she eventually made it big on the East Coast as a burlesque dancer. I think balcony tickets for her show are still available.

The songs are most certainly driven by the siren wailing of Hillary Watts. Though purposefully goofy sometimes, her performance is bold, brazen, and oozes with sensuality, at times bordering on humor porn. If you can take your attention off her long enough—a totally intended circumstance, I believe—you’ll find tasteful instrumentation painting the floor sticky with yesterday’s Maker’s Mark. The band does its part to perfection, keeping the groove alive and spunky for Watts to perform upon. The musical interludes and solo sections provide a nice, contrasting energy to her almost-paroxysmal vocal performance.

Although Morris Day and the mutha fuckin’ Time might want their “Jungle Love” riff back from the middle of “Killer Kind,” I see this as an appropriate homage to an often too forgotten legendary funk and dance outfit.

If you get a chance, check out these cats, especially Asia the ragdoll, live. Their high-energy performances pack in just as much bombastic sensuality as the record. This seems like the kind of music that is best listened to bouncing off your body at just a hair too many decibels.

Zach Hodson - July 17, 2012 - The Deli

"The Mailbox, vol. 46"

We’ve all heard of musical sub-genres like garage pop and dance pop and things like that. Well now, now you can add Freak Pop to the list thanks to The Hillary Watts Riot, a new addition to the KC music landscape. Freak Pop is pretty much an accurate description of their sound, as is “eclectic” and “alternative” and “what the hell is that?”, but they really have to be experienced live in person to get the full package…

Michael Byars - April 16, 2012 - Midwest Music Foundation

""Tube Top," The Hillary Watts Riot"

The first single off the band’s debut EP, "A/S/L," boasts perhaps the funkiest bass line in Kansas City. "Tube Top" is a groovy, loungey song that moves into a Blondie-esque break, maintaining an unconventional but superior sense of musicianship throughout.

Michelle Bacon - May 30, 2012 - The Kansas City Star


Released April 2012, Money Wolf Music




In early 2010, Christian Hankel and Tommy Donoho were conceiving a new musical genre. Pulling on musical influences ranging from Sonic Youth, Devo, King Crimson, and James Brown, but guided by a love of the smooth sounds of Hall & Oates, Cher, and Hanson, they mapped out a new territory they called "Freak Pop."

While they were both seasoned performers, they knew that it required a special type of person to front a Freak Pop band. They quickly decided upon their mutual friend, Hillary Watts. One part hilarious, one part insane, and all parts sexy, Hillary had all the parts necessary to make Freak Pop a reality.

And so was born The Hillary Watts Riot. Hillary's unique view of the world, coupled with Tommy's and Christian's musical experimentation, caused many strange and delightful songs to come into being.


The Hillary Watts Riot is loud, sexy, and brazenly odd. They play a style of music they call "Freak Pop" - humorous, absurd, and often sexually-charged lyrics, funk-inspired dance rhythms, dirty synth lines, and lots of experimentation and noise.

Looking like a cross between a 1980's Pat Benatar and a prom queen, Hillary Watts fronts a band of nameless, jumpsuited Drones. Together, they create an audiovisual playground that entices the audience like a stranger with candy.


Hard grooves, off-kilter rhythms, and sonic explosions underscore tales of the odd done by the strange: killer bees on a rampage; hirsute, gun-toting cadillac drivers; funky odes to tube tops; bubble boys in love. The Kansas City Star has this to say on the subject:

"The first single off the band’s debut EP, 'A/S/L,' boasts perhaps the funkiest bass line in Kansas City. 'Tube Top' is a groovy, loungey song that moves into a Blondie-esque break, maintaining an unconventional but superior sense of musicianship throughout."

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