I was finishing the last few pages of Pamela Des Barres’ Take Another Little Piece of My Heart, when I came across a paragraph discussing Butch Walker and Michael Des Barres’ upcoming collaboration on a musical. Strange coincidence, as I was to check out this new-to-me artist two days later.
The Independent is set up with tables and chairs, making for a lounge dynamic that I don’t quite know how to deal with. They’re all full, so I stand as usual. A quick glance around the room reveals dresses and cocktails…it looks like date night.
As Butch takes the stage, his greeting is very estrogen filled. I’m pretty sure I heard the sound of water dripping as some of these girls melted onto the floor. And they should, as this tall dark and handsome guy with really good bone structure spews poetry that most women dream about every night. I’d say he’s a slightly more mainstream Conor Oberst.
You say hello, inside I’m screaming I love you
You say goodnight, in my mind
I’m sleeping next to you
You drive away from my car crash of a heart
And I don’t know
But you gave me the best mixtape I have
And even all the bad songs ain’t so bad
I just wish there was so much more than that
About me and you
This guy has had his heart broken…probably multiple time…and he’s written some really beautiful stuff about it that made me relive emotions I wasn’t expecting. His latest album, Sycamore Meadows, due early next month, was written after he lost everything when his house burned during the So Cal wildfires. However, if sad was the theme of the music, he brought the funny to balance it out.
He was talkative, commenting on how he was sent a link from a blog earlier that day- and he didn’t know what blogging was (heehee). The blogger was mentioning the Butch Walker show and basically said that this guy had produced Avril Lavigne songs and has now put out his own record… how gratuitous (he was a little off). Offended, the audience applauded as he reminded everyone that he has been making records for longer than he’s been producing.
The ongoing joke of the night stemmed from a presumably well sauced audience ‘heckler’, John, the birthday guy. After getting a few notes of the Happy Birthday song, he proceeded to make his presence known and/or be brought up during banter throughout the evening. People were shouting out requests, whooping loudly…at one point he started to get feed up…”I’m not doing this…it’s turning into a comedy hour”.
Butch was performing new material, and was definitely nervous about forgetting words. It wasn’t a problem. In fact, the songs that stayed with me when I left the venue were the new ones- ‘Going Back/Going Home’, ‘Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought of You’, and ‘Song for the Metalheads’ (of course!). I much prefer them live and raw to the recorded versions, which I feel are backed up by some uncomplimentary beats on occasion.
For the older songs, the crowd sang along to every word in a non-obnoxious, trance-like way that felt very surreal. It was a strange contrast to the giddiness that erupted at the sound of the first few notes. As he began some of these more well known songs, it was like someone was holding a newborn puppy up on stage. You know the sound…I’ve never heard a gasp/awwww emitted in response to a song…this was all new to me. But once you hear the words and see his face as he sings (puts John Mayer to shame!), you understand why.
Another funny moment came when he got on himself for strumming chords while he talks. He said he felt stupid for making his speeches sound like a soundtrack, mocking the dramatic voiceovers in movie trailers, and proclaimed that he would ever do it again. But he did, that very night. Old habits die hard.
There’s the Southern girl in me that connected with this performance, the heartbroken teenager that was overly dramatic and optimistic. Now I just drown it all out with the hard and fast stuff. But this was a nice break.
Butch Walker performance: 9/10
venue (The Independent): 8.5/10
value ($15/ticket): 8/10
From the show:
Going Back/Going Home…and the blogging speech interlude- Lizstar319
Hecklers/Happy Birthday- Lizstar319
Diary of a San Fernando Sexx Star- Lizstar319