This week, Jennifer takes a chance on Butch Walker, with some lovely results.
Butch Walker and the Black Widows/Locksley, Webster Hall, 5/20/2010
I kind of decided to go to this show on a whim. Up until relatively recently I’d been neutral to indifferent about the music of Butch Walker, but then he came out with I Liked You Better When You Had No Heart and I developed a fondness for Pretty Melody, because, well, it does have a pretty melody. And it kind of sounds like a backwoods orchestra creaking to life, one instrument at a time. So when his name popped up in one of my concert alerts I thought all right, let’s go see what this is all about.
I am really, really glad I went, because it was an incredible evening. He played a variety of instruments, including a banjolele – an actual cowbell also made an appearance, though it was played by guitarist Chris Unck – and we danced in the pit, singing along and clapping. He covered Weezer and Hall & Oates, and at one point towards the end, jumped in to the crowd and led us in a variation on the Twist, in order to drown out the muffled sounds of disco coming from the floor below us. It was crazy, and hilarious, and one of the best shows I’ve been to for a while.
But to begin, properly, at the beginning, the first band on the stage was Locksley . Their MySpace genre is “garage/pop/rock”, but apparently they have also previously classified themselves as “doo-wop punk” which I think is far more accurate. They have the three-part harmonies down, and also they look like they might have just wandered off the set of a remake of Grease, from the top of their rolled sleeves right down to the curve of Jordan Laz’s ducktail.
Jesse Laz and Jordan Laz
Live they tend to drift more towards the “garage” and “punk” end of the spectrum, with excellent results. They put on a great high-energy show, which last Thursday included a particularly good cover of The White Stripes’ Hotel Yorba and an instrumental snippet of Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll No. 2.
Kai Kennedy and Sam Bair
And then it was time for Butch Walker and the Black Widows.
He played the first two songs a) on the piano and b) practically in the dark, and none of my pictures of it came out very well. This one is from somewhere around song 3 or 4, after he had moved to the middle of the stage. I was particularly fond of the use of the fairy lights on stage.
Chris Unck and Fran Capitanelli
I was on the rail on the far left, so a good many of my pictures are of these two gentlemen. In addition to the guitar, Chris Unck also played the lap steel, maracas, the tambourine, and, as noted above, the cowbell.
I spent most of the evening thinking of Jake Sinclair as Jake the Elusive Bassist, although by “elusive” I really meant “standing on the other side of Butch Walker where I can’t get a clear shot of him.” This is one of the better pictures I did manage to take. The gentleman behind him is Dr. Pat the Tour Doctor, who came out in the middle of the show to sit in and join the fun.
And, in conclusion, two more of Butch Walker. The one above is him perched on the edge of the stage at the end of the main set, after a raw and powerful performance of Best Thing You Never Had. I do love the stark stillness of it, but the show didn’t end on that note. So in closing, I give you the one below, from the encore, from not long after he informed us that “Tiny guitar means party!”: