Rock Eyez

American Hi-Fi / Butch Walker
Bowery Ballroom



Bowery Ballroom, New York City , NY

December 6th , 2004

The Bowery Ballroom… not exactly my favorite venue, mainly because I have to drive into that God-forsaken City on a work night literally just hours after getting off a plane and, of course, it's raining to make things just a little more entertaining. However, I don't care, not tonight, because for the third time since July, I am going to witness an incredible show… Maverick recording artists AMERICAN HI-FI & Sony recording artist BUTCH WALKER .

Doesn't sound all that thrilling does it? But let me tell ya, when you get these two performers together they are an absolute machine and it's an experience that can be summed up in one word…FUN. Now I have gone to literally hundreds of shows over the years and after a while it just seems to become routine; same old bands, same old songs, same old show. Now don't get me wrong, I have seen some incredible performances but nothing so spectacular that I felt the absolute need to cheer, go crazy and go home hoarse from screaming at the top of my lungs like when I was a kid first going to shows, but that's exactly what's happened every time. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the venues, which do tend to be quite small. Maybe the crowd causes one get lost in the music and the experience, because everyone there is just so into it. Or maybe it's just the combination of everything-- including the merging of two talents which positively give the appearance of loving what they do. Whatever it is, this was one tour which I won't forget for a long, long time.

After opener Val Emmich , a local Jersey artist who's been opening for these guys for most of their tour and isn't that bad, as far as openers go, AMERICAN HI-FI hit the stage at about 10:00pm and you could tell right away you were in for another incredible performance. These guys were holding no punches this time as they immediately opened with the title track off their second album “The Art of Losing” followed next by their first hit “Flavor of the Week” which got everyone in the room pumped up beyond belief. After ripping through “Separation Anxiety” from their new album HEARTS ON PARADE , the band slowed it down a bit with two of their more “moody” selections…”Safer on the Outside” and “The Everlasting Fall” before turning it back up again with an awesome rendition of “Maybe Won't Do” which actually sounds better live than it does on the CD.

Things started to get really interesting when the crowd let out a barrage of screams and applause as co-producer of their new album AND co-headliner BUTCH WALKER joined the band for the next 3 songs, “Something Real,” ”We Can't Be Friends,” and “Hell Yeah!” With their set winding down and BUTCH (momentarily) leaving the stage, AMERICAN HI-FI got in their last licks, I thought, with one of the best songs from their new album, “The Geeks Get the Girls”. Yet, they decided to end their set with “Wall of Sound,” an older, slower song that actually left me rather taken back after such a great set.

Immediately after all the “thank you's” and “good nights,” the lights dimmed, the crowd went absolutely wild and you could make out some movement on the stage but unless you knew, you weren't exactly sure what was going on…but I did. This is what made this tour a truly unique experience. AMERICAN HI-FI vocalist Stacy Jones hopped behind the drum kit while bassist Drew Parsons and guitarist Jamie Arentzen remained on stage to become the back up band for BUTCH WALKER! Therefore, there was none of the bullshit you usually have to endure in-between the bands... no set changes, etc...When the lights came up literally just seconds later, BUTCH was now center stage as the now combined talents began to rip into “Uncomfortably Numb” from BUTCH WALKER'S latest release on Sony Records LETTERS .

LETTERS was represented quite a bit on this particular evening as BUTCH cranked out “Don't Move,” “Maybe It's Just Me,” “ #1 Summer Jam,” “So At Last,” an extended and powerful version of “Best Thing That You Never Had,” and even ended the show with the hard rocking “Lights Out”…all from the new album. The first video & single from the album, a ballad dedicated to the lost art of making mix tapes (if you grew up in the late 70's or 80's…you'll understand) entitled “Mix Tape” was also included early in the show. During the acoustic set in the middle of the performance, BUTCH alone accompanied by only a piano or acoustic guitar performed another ballad entitled “Joan”, giving the guys from HI-FI a breather. Now I mentioned these were all from his new album but you would never know it from the reaction of the crowd that enthusiastically sang along word for word all night long.

Speaking of the acoustic set, that was definitely one of the highlights of the evening. As well as “Joan,” it included two old MARVELOUS 3 tunes, “Radio Tokyo” and “Cigarette Lighter Love Song” and, being it was around the holidays, the quintessential Christmas cover “So This Is Christmas”…all of which the entire crowd knew by heart.

The show absolutely peaked during a stellar rendition of U2's “Sunday Bloody Sunday” this led into BUTCH'S biggest hit with the MARVELOUS 3 - “Freak of The Week.”

Accompanied by Stacy Jones from AMERICAN HI-FI again on vocals, “Freak of The Week” sounded almost anthem-like as they transformed it into almost a medley of sorts even merging with the chorus of AMERICAN HI-FI's“Flavor Of The Week” at points. A great set ender which kept the crowd screaming for more, before BUTCH'S little rip on ASHLEY SIMPSON, “I'd rather play than push play” leading into the final blast with “Light's Out”.

Thus ends another incredible night. The only disappointment was that BUTCH didn't include anything from his first solo release LEFT OF SELF-CENTERED which was a bit edgier and stayed true to his roots in both SOUTH GANG and MARVELOUS 3 . Listening to LETTERS alone cannot express the talent and stage presence of this incredible performer.

Unfortunately, all good things do come to an end and the two bands went their separate ways at the end of December. AMERICAN HI-FI is now out on the road with BOWLING FOR SOUP, while BUTCH is working hard on putting his own band together and gearing up for his tour of Japan . Could a tour like this ever happen again? Who knows but I am glad I got the chance to experience it several times over but either band alone is worth the trip…even in this fucking traffic and rain!!!




  1. The Art Of Losing
  2. Flavor Of The Week
  3. Separation Anxiety
  4. Safer On The Outside
  5. Everlasting Fall
  6. Maybe Won't Do
  7. Something Real
  8. We Can't Be Friends
  9. Hell Yeah
  10. The Geeks Get The Girls
  11. Wall Of Sound



  1. Uncomfortably Numb
  2. Don't Move
  3. Maybe It's Just Me
  4. Mix Tape
  5. #1 Summer Jam
  6. Last Flight Out
  7. So This Is Christmas
  8. Radio Tokyo
  9. Cigarette Lighter Love Song
  10. Joan
  11. So At Last
  12. The Best Thing That You Never Had
  13. Sunday Bloody Sunday>
  14. Freak Of The Week
  15. Ode To Ashley Simpson
  16. Lights Out


American Hi-Fi / Butch Walker
American Hi-Fi / Butch Walker
American Hi-Fi / Butch Walker
American Hi-Fi / Butch Walker
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