Monday, April 23, 2007

Rock Vocal Power

Maybe there was too much anticipation for it to live up to.

(No, not the Red Sox-Yankees series, or even DiceK’s debut into The Rivalry.)

Maybe there was no way it could live up to the last go-around.

(Nope, not talking about dating…at least not yet anyway…either.)

Maybe it’s just me, but Friday’s filmed-for-a-DVD concert wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.

Disclaimer #1: In no way was it a poor show. The acoustics were great and the sound guy deserves top shelf cocktails for the rest of the tour (The Tabernacle’s a beautiful venue, but as a former church, tends to be far more boom-y and reverberating than most clubs). The set list was excellent, mixing some very old stuff ("Indie Queen," "Over Your Head,"), 1-and-a-half covers (Part of "Laid" by James, and a rocked out "Born To Run"), with the usual Butch/Marvy suspects ("The Best Thing You Never Had," "Mixtape," "Joan" and "CLLS" at the piano.)

That said, it didn’t seem to hit the same transcendant levels of performer-audience interaction that Butch had at the Legion Field show, and the energy overall seemed scaled back from even his pre-Rise And Fall Of…tour 40Watt show (where we first heard some of those new tunes.)

Was it a conscious decision to scale back the pick flip-and-catches? (I’m guessing "no" here, because there was a great flip, catch-in-mouth-spit-catch moment late in the set).

Did the band eat some tainted shellfish and feel under the weather?

I’m not sure, but I think I might blame the crowd.

Atlanta’s always been Butch’s strongest area, and I’ve never seen him outside of the state of GA (something I plan to rectify maybe even as soon as his next—or 1969’s next—tour), but the general consensus from fans is that the crowd response isn’t remotely the same in general (and who knows, there could be some trucker-hatted aging hipsters in LA that outright dislike the guy…their loss of course.)

On his last trip to ATL, he remarked about seeing so many familiar faces in Atlanta. But this go-around it looked like there were a lot of new faces too.

Young faces.

Faces that were here because it was an all-ages show, and because they heard about Butch when The OC had him on as a featured artist back in December. Faces that were seeing Butch for the first time and didn’t know that when he asks you nicely to shut the hell up for three minutes so he can play "Joan" on the piano, it’s not a joke, he means it.

Faces that didn’t know that we could’ve kept that a cappella outro to "When Canyons Ruled the City" going a lot longer, and it would’ve been cool as hell. Faces that don’t even know who the Marvelous 3 are, and probably do have parents that have "Born to Run" on tape somewhere.

And they were everywhere too.

Maybe, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I am getting too old for midsize and large-venue general admission concerts. At Legion Field I had room to move about, play the occasional air-guitar and generally make a not-too-noticeable ass out of myself. At the Tabernacle, if I moved too far one way, security would tell me to either move to the back, or I’d find myself surround by a pack of drunken morons too busy patting each other on the back on how wasted they are to pay attention to the show.

Disclaimer #2: I'd also been fighting a sore throat/fever for most of the week and had been running at least a degree of fever less than 24 hours before the show. Plus I'd forgotten the cardinal going-out-rule that no matter how hot or cold it is outside, when 1,000s of people get crammed together it's going to be: hot. And perhaps a long-sleeved, black, not-exactly-breathable dress shirt was poor attire.

And so I figure that’s the most likely reason for the semi-disappointment (I’m still going to buy the DVD—along with extra copies to inflict on friends and family for gifts).

But, in the interest of full-disclosure there is one other reason: The Girl and I got reacquainted and started dating right after the Legion Field show (she was almost right behind me, but didn’t come up to me and I didn’t turn around enough or else I need my vision checked--she has a look she can give that if I had been getting it that night, I should have seen--anyway…but the next day she emailed me and a week later was what I still consider The Best Date I’ve Ever Had, in caps even, and so on). She claimed she never missed a Butch Walker show, and while we haven’t talked (and I haven’t even tried lately) I may have spent half the show with my head on a swivel looking behind me, to the side (and even wandering to the smokers’ pit and to the top balcony before Butch’s set started and the rest of my crew showed up.) Also, I may have sang her name instead of "Baby" on a few songs…but at this point it’s an old habit, dating back to October.

(Weird Coincidence Note: after the 40 Watt show I met/flirted with two lovely ladies from either North or South Carolina who had driven all the way to Athens to see the show. I suggested afterwards that they join me at Mercury Lounge for drinks. They didn’t show, but this gets weird when I mention that The Girl and I’s TBDIEH also took place at Mercury Lounge. This just hit me today, and I’m sure it signifies/means nothing…but still…)

And maybe all he really needed was fireworks. The first time I saw Butch solo was only a few blocks from the Tabernacle, at Downtown Rocks (with LFT opening), and in addition to playing his now famous Queen Medley, there were enough fireworks (literally) to rival a David Lee Roth production.

Of course after that show I met the man himself at Smith’s Olde Bar…hmmm. Damn it. I knew I shouldn’t have gone home after the show Friday…

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Funny. I thought the exact same thing.

I blamed The Tabernacle. I think it was too large a venue. Or perhaps Butch was off his game because of anxiety for the DVD filming. It's not like him to say, "I'm about to serve you three minutes of shut the fuck up." He also didn't have all of The Let's Go Out Tonites.

The show at Variety was much better. He seemed more excited and appreciative of his fans. Oh wait, there also weren't 15 year olds there and I almost didn't have to kick anyone's ass at that show either.