MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of The Connells’ “Hats Off” (Live)

After 37 years, the Connells are finally releasing their first official live album. The 12 tracks on Set The Stage (Black Park) are culled from the recent tour supporting the North Carolina jangle-rock institution’s 2021 “comeback” LP, Steadman’s Wake. Set The Stage is set for release on May 5. (The pre-order link will be active March 31.) So why a live album at this juncture?

“I didn’t take the lead on that one,” says Connells guitarist and cofounder Mike Connell with a chuckle. “I’ve never been a fan of live albums. I’m always hearing the imperfections.”

Today, MAGNET is premiering the live version of “Hats Off,” the frenetic first track from the band’s 1986 debut, Darker Days. “We were so young, and the tempos were so fast,” says Connell. “We had to slow it down—there was just no way. But I’m impressed with how Doug (MacMillan) has handled the vocals. He was still finding his way back then.”

On April 1, the Connells will perform live sets at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. EST from The Barn at Sonark Studios in Hillsborough, N.C. Click here for more details on the livestream.

—Hobart Rowland