Butch Walker is your favorite songwriter that you’ve never heard of. He has written and produced a number of hit songs for other artists such as Weezer, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Taylor Swift, Fallout Boy, Katy Perry, and the Wombats, to name a few. While I’m sure that you’ve heard at least one of these tracks, you haven’t HEARD Butch Walker until you’ve been to a Butch Walker show.
Midweek shows are pretty rough, especially when it’s in the middle of an insanely busy work week. Add to that the fact that the show was in Boulder, which is a hour from my house, and I knew it was meant to be a long night. I convinced my friend Dan, the singer of the Denver punk band Wiredogs, to make the trip up with me. He had never heard of Butch Walker before, and since he is currently working on a solo acoustic album I though he’d benefit from seeing Butch’s show.
We arrived in Boulder early enough to grab a few drinks and some beef tongue tacos, then headed into the venue.
The Fox Theater was smaller than I imagined it would be, with an official capacity of only 625. It’s lobby, multi-tiered layout, and tall ceilings were echoes of the rooms previous movie theater incarnation.
There was two opening acts before Butch Walker took stage, both having their own strengths and weaknesses. The first was a French duo, The Dove and the Wolf. What they lacked in song diversity was made up for in spot on harmonies. They even did one song in their native French, and for all I know they could have been singing about dead babies… But everything sounds better in French, so it was all good. They played for about half an hour, then the other opening act, Jonathan Tyler, took the stage, looking like Marty Mcfly in Back to the Future 3, but with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica.
I’d never heard of either of the openers before, so when Tyler started playing I had no idea what to expect. His songs and guitar skills were good, but it was his bluesy, soulful voice that stood above the rest of his performance. Yet, it felt something was missing. I found out after that he usually has a full electric band that he tours with, which I think would have filled the perceived void perfectly.
After Jonathan Tyler, Butch Walker set out to take us on a two-plus hour adventure. If you’ve never been to one of his shows the first thing you need to know is that they have the pacing of a freight train. Every one I’ve been to, including the Boulder show, have started off with Butch playing a few slow, piano accompanied songs, then doing a few on the acoustic guitar, all leading up to breaking out an electric guitar and shredding his more uptempo songs.
He too was without his band on this tour, but he had a kick drum set up that he was playing with his foot and he also brought both of his opening acts on stage with him for a few songs.
Ever the king of creating an emotional attachment with his audience, Butch brought his 8 year old son James on stage to sing a song with him. Throughout his set he also occasionally went into storyteller mode, adding a personal depth to his songs.
After his main set, Butch began the encore with a 10 minute story about his father and the last song he played for him before he died. The crowd was visibly moved as he played his last few songs, to the point where I saw more than a few people who had tears in their eyes. As he said his goodnight and walked off the stage the person behind me exclaimed that they ‘needed a group hug after all that’.
As we walked back to my car, Dan told me how inspired he was by the show to go write more of his own songs. To me, that’s the difference between a musical artist and an entertainer. An entertainer captures your attention for a limited time. An artist affects your soul. Having seen him a few times, I can say without a doubt that Butch Walker is a highly talented artist! If he ever is playing a show in your area and you miss it, you are doing an incredible disservice to yourself!