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September 13, 2007

Butch Walker & The Lets Go Out Tonites; San Francisco, CA; 9.7.07


Butch Walker has the type of career and respect millions would die for. From his role of front man of punk-pop band Marvelous 3, who had a hit in "Freak of the Week," to his great songwriting ability (he has written for the likes of Avril Lavigne, All American Rejects, Bowling For Soup, Pink, Fall Out Boy and many others), his current and long-standing successful solo venture, or his well-known producing abilities, this is a guy working non-stop in the music industry and doing a hell of a job.

Though he is technically a solo artist, Butch records and tours with his own band, and they are on the road now in support of their latest album, The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and The Lets Go Out Tonites. When a date in San Francisco was added, I knew this wasn't a show I wanted to miss - I'd yet to catch Butch live and had heard nothing but high praise from my friends fortunate enough to have already.

Charlotte Sometimes
, an up-and-coming band from New York, were the direct support for the show. I was really impressed with them. Charlotte has a strong and interesting voice (I mean that in a good way!) The vocals add a unique dynamic to the music that separates them from the sound many artists of today have adopted.


My favorite of theirs is probably "How Could I Kill A..." which has an infectious beat and chorus. It sounds great recorded as well, and would make a good choice as a single when they release their LP early next year. The stand-out live, however, was "AEIOU." It is a nice, blended mixture of jazz and alternative sounds and is something different. Vocally you can see the influence from the likes of Fiona Apple, but the extra genre crossover appeal gives it a new twist.

I am hoping to catch CS again soon and will be keeping an eye on them. They show real promise and lots of potential for growth as a band. I was really taken with Charlotte herself as well; she is adorable and has a good presence as front-woman. They'll be opening for Pat from Train on his solo tour in October so check them out if you can!

After a brief break, the lights went dark as Butch Walker walked on-stage by himself, taking a seat at the piano. The song he played was a demo called "Atlanta," which has a haunting feel and beautiful vocals. There is a very sweet, pure tone notable on all of Butch's ballads, and this particular one has that but with a stronger presence. It's simply a lovely song. You can hear it on Butch's Myspace page.

"Uncomfortably Numb," one of my personal favorites, was also early in the set. This song is nothing short of inherently catchy and something that will be stuck in your head for days after you hear it. It was a high-energy performance and really got the crowd going. The album it's on, Letters, is a few years old (it was released in 2004), but might still be my favorite of Butch's work. It's filled with pop rock tunes with great hooks that are fun to crank up the volume on and sing-a-long with.

What I really appreciate about Butch is he is through and through an entertainer. He is up there on stage making sure everyone is having a good time and never simply goes through the motions. Is he a pitch-perfect singer? No, but this is rock 'n roll, and there's some leeway allowed there; plus, the "it" factor that is often so elusive in the industry is definitely present here. Butch's talent across many areas of the business is undeniable, but it's his charisma and relatability that make him a true success.

One of the set's highlights was "Best Thing You Never Had," an anthem of a song that describes a past relationship and wanting to get back at the person who broke your heart. This is a masterpiece live; Butch emotes it wonderfully and takes you right into the lyrics, which incidentally are some of my favorites that he's written. I only have to say that while I recommend you hear this song, you have to get the live version from This Is Me Justified and Stripped rather than the studio version because it's so much more alive.

Although this show was not sold out, the crowd was awesome: loud, enthusiastic and, most importantly, all having the time of their lives. Everyone was jumping, dancing, singing and all smiles throughout the night. It's one of the things I love most about live music - seeing how it effects the audience - and Butch is great at touching on an array of emotions in each individual.

My favorite to hear live was "Cigarette Lighter Love Song," which was the only Marvelous 3 song played - and, actually, the context of the lyrics is in relation to the breakup of the band. I love how the song is constructed and its balance of beginning as a subtle ballad and breaking into full band; it has an especially great bridge. This also features one of my favorite lines: "Everything's supposed to have a happy ending / but the record keeps skipping and the needle keeps breaking."

"Lights Out" is not only one of my favorites by Butch, but at the top of my list of songs in general to throw on a mix and blast while driving. This is just a ton of fun live. Leading into the song, Butch conducts a dance off with the crowd and later dives right into the middle and spends time singing within the masses. It's really a great climax to the set and as it comes near the end, brings everyone together to help cap off the show.

I am grateful I was able to finally catch Butch Walker & The Lets Go Out Tonites live. They are a tight band and put on quite a performance. Admittedly, though, it was all a little bittersweet for me, as this was the last show I'm officially covering for Billboard. But nonetheless, it was a wonderful way to end this summer's experience, and I can't thank everyone at Billboard enough for such a great opportunity!

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another fine job =) rock on!


Loooove it girl! Butch is great and a cutie too.


Wow, awesome review!


I have always loved your writing and this proves why. I am rooting foryou!


oh gosh! butch is the MAN. you are right about lights out, it reminds me of summer and driving with friends. vodka rhymes with lotsa, bourbon rhymes with hurtin! i wish i was there, thanks for another great review


hey, I remember when he was a judge on RSSN. hahaha. I've never heard Butch's music but from the sounds of it he's a talented guy. I'll have to check him out, thanks!


GREAT blog!


this is your last one? :( you are such a talented writer, it's been fun reading all of your concert reviews. keep on keepin on!


Just linked into this site and what have I been missing. I felt like I was with you, thanks for the GREAT review.

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