The Surf Club, Ortley Beach, NJ
May 13th, 2005
Ahhhh…. summer at the Jersey shore! There’s nothing like it and what a better way to kick it off than with a concert at the Surf Club in Ortley Beach, NJ by one of my favorite artists BUTCH WALKER. This is a great club! Right on the beach, good acoustics and you really get that “ Jersey shore” feel. Now how could you go wrong catching BUTCH in that atmosphere? Well, it was “Friday the 13th” after all so… you’re about to find out.
Now I really have to be honest. If you’ve read any of my past reviews you probably know already what a huge BUTCH WALKER fan I am. I have seen him literally five times in the last year and every show has been better than the next. But this is the first time I have seen him without AMERICAN HI-FI as his back-up band and sadly, I must admit, there was really something missing.
Right from the start, BUTCH came out swinging with two tracks from his latest album “Letters,” “Uncomfortably Numb” and “Maybe It’s Just Me.” After just these two songs, it didn’t take long to realize just how much AMERICAN HI-FI was missed. BUTCH really tried to kick it into high gear but it just seemed, at times, that his band just couldn’t keep up. Maybe they hadn’t rehearsed enough, maybe it was just an off night or maybe they were just too “drunk,” but the energy from the past performances I have witnessed just wasn’t there and that “magic” which made me such a prolific BUTCH fan was virtually nonexistent.
Next came “Mix Tape” which was a lot better than the previous two songs. But then again, it is a lot slower and features BUTCH’s vocals and emotional side a lot more. This was followed by a cover of THE WHO’s “The Kids Are Alright” leading straight into “#1 Summer Jam” and one of my favorite BUTCH tracks, “Last Flight Out.” Again, the performances were “ok.” BUTCH was pretty much on, as usual, butit just didn’t “feel” right. Definitely not as energetic, not as tight and not as electric as I remember him.
Now THIS was my favorite part of the show. After “Last Flight Out,” the band left the stage and left BUTCH alone with only an acoustic guitar or piano to back him up. He started off with a brief story about his previous band, MARVELOUS 3, which led into a tender rendition of the last song they ever played together as a band, “Cigarette Lighter Love Song.” Now the magic was back! This was just amazing and if you were a fan of MARVELOUS 3, you found yourself almost choked up at the memory of just how great that band was.
Comically declaring it “Two for One cover night,” the next two songs were covers of the BOOM TOWN RATS classic “I Don’t Like Mondays” and QUEEN’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”… only half of each, though! Then BUTCH broke into a new song simply titled “Song Without a Chorus” which was very good. It had that typical BUTCH WALKER feel to it with the heavy acoustic guitar, well thought lyrics and tasteful composition and left me looking forward to the release of his next album. A crowd favorite, “Every Monday” followed which, again, brought you back to his MARVELOUS 3 days. Now what happened next was clearly the most disturbing part of the performance… at least to me.
There is nothing I find more disturbing and more unprofessional at a live show than a performer tuning their instrument on stage. I mean isn’t that what they have multiple guitars and roadies for??? I just find that it breaks any momentum or rhythm the performer is in and, lets face it, it just looks stupid. Never the less, that’s exactly what he did for the next two and a half minutes which may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things but at a concert… it’s an eternity! Finally, after all this… the show continued with another crowd favorite, “Suburbia” from his first solo release “Left of Self-Centered.” This was his last “solo” song of the night and the band re-joined him for “So At Last,” “Race Cars & Goth Rock,” a show stopper (under normal circumstances) “The Best Thing That You Never Had” and the hard-hitting “Lights Out.”
Now for the encores! Oh wait a minute… THERE WERE NONE!!! Even after exclaiming “See ya in a bit.” after the final notes of “Lights Out” and standing there in the dark for a few minutes listening to the crowd screaming, the lights just came up and the DJ started cranking some atrocious mixture of RAP and CLUB music for the rest of the night truly turning the venue into a CLUB. Made me want to friggin’ PUKE and what infuriated me even MORE was watching the idiots left start DANCING to this crap! REAL ROCKER’S DON’T DANCE… PERIOD! So it was easy to pick out all the “posers” who showed up for the evening and probably didn’t even have a clue to who BUTCH WALKER was. If I only had a couple of gallons of gasoline and a flame thrower I could have done the world a favor! But I digress… it was VERY disappointing especially not knowing why there were no encores. And we hung out for a while afterwards in hopes of catching Butch as he left the venue so there can’t be any excuse of “zoning laws” in the area because they were blasting that crap for the next 45 minutes at least! Ahhhhh…. my ears!
Overall, it was a very disappointing evening. Performance wise, other than BUTCH’s solo set and barring the whole “tuning” incident, it just fell flat of the amazing shows I have previously attended. On this particular evening, the absence of AMERICAN HI-FI as BUTCH’s back up band really affected the overall enjoyment of the show and I didn’t leave with the usual “high” I have after attending a BUTCH WALKER show. I truly hope this was just an off night for the band because I am fully intent on seeing BUTCH again this summer and I hope as his solo tour and his tour with AVRIL LAVIGNE press on, the band will come together. If not, I think some personnel changes will DEFINITELY be in order.
- Butch Walker - Vocals/Guitar
- Uncomfortably Numb
- Maybe It's Just Me
- Don't Move
- The Kids Are Alright (The Who cover)
- #1 Summer Jam
- Last Flight Out
- Cigarette Lighter Love Song
- I Don't Like Mondays (Boom Town Rats cover)
- Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover)
- Song Without A Chorus
- Every Monday
- So At Last
- Race Cars & Goth Rock
- The Best Thing That You Never Had
- Lights Out
Official Butch Walker website: http://www.butchwalker.com/