. . . and alcohol. What more can you ask for in a live show?
I dare you to not have fun at a Butch Walker show. It’s not possible. Even if your date is despicable, daft, or flirting with someone across the bar, Butch Walker will have a song to help you celebrate it.
Butch Walker and The Black Widows have been playing songs from their upcoming album, at an underground location, in what has become a Monday night residency of sorts. Even if you know where the venue is, when you arrive, the first thing you see is a sign that says: Shhhhh.
As the Black Widows take their positions on stage, Butch Walker reminds everyone why they’re here: “Let’s have some fun, alright? We’re going to play the album straight through. That’s all we’ve got for you. . . unless we get drunk later and it’s someone’s birthday and we sing a bunch of cover songs or something.” They did get drunk, it was someone’s birthday, they played the album straight through, and a good time was had by all.
It’s a rock & roll show: shots of whiskey are delivered from the bar, round upon round; there are rafters for the band to swing from. . . and they make good use of them; there are beautiful women on and off stage; guitars fall – or get knocked over – by beautiful women who are just trying to be helpful (so no one really gets upset about it); there are other beautiful women perfectly positioned to let the band know that equipment is falling; and not a drink goes untouched.
Ladies: you know what Butch Walker & The Black Widows, whiskey and beautiful women, bring to a venue? A bunch of cool men. Live music and a hell of a lot more fun than a speed-dating event.
Butch Walker & The Black Widows
If you eavesdrop on band members after the show (they really tell the truth if they don’t know you’re listening), you’ll hear every single one of them say, “It’s a lot of fun!” The show feels like a great house party just before the cops arrive as a result of numerous noise complaints, but with an amazing band as opposed to “that neighbor kid and his friends”. The band is having fun on stage and it transfers to the audience. If you see Butch Walker & The Black Widows play, you will have a good time. Guaranteed.
I have several HD videos of the show and a lot of Butch Walker fans asking me to post them. Initially, I considered that these are new songs, that the album is still being recorded, that perhaps something should remain a surprise. What fun is it if everyone knows all the songs before they’re even released?? Then I remembered the first Butch Walker show I ever attended. It was many years ago (not too many though because none of us is “old”). It was an album release show at The Hotel Cafe. Brand new songs. In fact, it may have even been a week or two before the album was released, as a “warm-up show” to kick off a tour. Regardless, it was a sold out show. People had driven in from Atlanta and Arizona and flown in from New York. It felt like a pilgrimage to hear these “new” Butch Walker songs, but the most striking thing happened when Butch Walker played: everyone already knew the words and they all sang along. That show introduced me not only to Butch Walker, but to his fans, who are among the most dedicated, loyal, and passionate fans any artist could hope for. Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend didn’t exist at that time, or surely I would have written about that show. That said, Butch Walker’s amazing fans have been a significant part of my experience of every show, so I wrote a bit about that here.
Anyway, here are a few videos for people who love Butch Walker – they deserve it:
This has become one of my favorite moments every week:
I wasn’t going to write about the show tonight. I wasn’t going to capture video of any portion of it. I was merely going to listen, watch, and enjoy myself.
As is always the case when I see Joseph Arthur play, I enjoy myself so much that I have to write about it. Every Joseph Arthur show is so unique and inspiring that I don’t want you to ever miss out, especially should you have the chance to see him play live (even if you’ve seen him 100 times before).
Joseph Arthur art show in the venue
When you see Joseph Arthur play, it’s more than a “show.” He’s not just playing songs – you can feel that he’s truly sharing himself with you in that moment. It’s as if he’s saying “thank you for being here. . . step inside my mind for an hour or two” and then he really let’s you in. What that means is – Joseph Arthur is going to tell you what he’s thinking and let you hear what he hears, layer by layer, so you can really absorb it. This happens through the music, the banter between songs, a change in direction which highlights another aspect of his personality, an acknowledgment of someone specific in the audience, or what and how he paints during the set. Every show is unique, a shared creation and experience.
During last week’s exceptional show, Joseph remarked that he wanted to “lighten the mood,” that the set felt “too heavy.” This week he showed us what he meant. He frequently joked between songs, declaring that malfunctioning equipment is begging “just hit me,” making definitive sounding statements followed by a pause and then, “that can’t be true.” The mood was playful and light. In one way or another, Joe seemed to acknowledge every person in the room, all the while creating music before us, track by track.
The light mood in no way diminished the serious genius of Joseph Arthur’s songwriting. In fact, it almost highlighted it further. One moment Joseph is leading the audience in a chant of OM (yes, that happened) and the next he’s singing a song that lifts your heart up to your throat and lodges it there until he gently sets it back down. Joseph Arthur has written some of my all-time favorite lyrics and each time I see him I feel more and more blessed to be there.
At the end of the show, as his talented guest musicians started to walk off stage, Joseph turned and said, “wait – stay here.” He grabbed an acoustic guitar, decorated with his hand-painted art, and began singing “In The Sun,” unplugged. It was dark, it was intimate, the audience moved in closer and sang along. In a moment that epitomizes graciousness, connection, and openness, artist and audience became one. Joseph sat down on the steps leading from the stage to the crowd, the audience gathered around him as if at a campfire, and what happened can’t be described in words. Here’s video of that moment. The lighting was low so the video is very dark, hard to see at times. But as you watch through to the end, enough light comes into the frame throughout to illuminate what I’ve been trying to say all along: you had to be there.
And I responded with something like this: “I wish @ButchWalker would do another residency. . .”
Amazing musician? Great songwriter? Brilliant producer? That’s all merely a front – Butch Walker is a mother f*cking genie!
Playing Angry Birds on stage
Tonight marked the second of four Monday night shows by Butch Walker & The Black Widows. The songs are so new, Walker has the lyrics readily available on an iPad. At the same time, Walker and The Black Widows know the set so well, the setlist is merely a placemat for the whiskey.
“Is this too loud out there?” Walker asked, leaning into the crowded room. “I feel like it is, but f*ck it. . .”
The picture of rock & roll
The Black Widows played for about an hour, trying their new songs out on friends and family, before they head into the studio to record an album. The music is fun. There’s a song that takes you on a Bryan Adams flashback, and you somehow come out feeling okay (that’s genius). There’s a song about being sucker-punched and the corresponding story about how Walker secured this Monday night venue (surely, there could have been a less-painful way). The songs are more “upbeat” than some of Walker’s previous work, although there are some thematic similarities. If you’re a Butch Walker fan, this all makes sense. If you’re not familiar with Walker. . . chances are nothing I’ve said makes sense anyway. Wiki him and you’ll find you do know Butch Walker.
The Black Widows
The venue? The drinks were strong and affordable. In fact, they served me the strongest drink short of those I’ve made myself. Cover charge? There isn’t one. I can’t tell you where it is, but I’ll give you the following hint: it’s one of few places in LA where the AT&T iPhone seems to get reception.
Thank you for making my wish come true, Butch. If we don’t count “no line in the women’s room” and “free parking”, I get two more, right?