How is Butch Walker not a huge star? He makes inventive albums that straddle genres, he's witty and a little snarky, he wears his heart on his sleeve, he apparently gorged at the all you can eat melody buffet and he's got the elegantly wasted good looks that drive the young girls crazy. And five albums into a slow-building solo career, he's still getting better.
Walker and his band, The Black Widows, played an exuberant set last night to crowd made up mostly of freshly scrubbed tattooed girls who knew (and sang along with) every word to every song. Walker's made his mark mostly as a producer and songwriter for others (Avril Lavigne, Pink, Pete Yorn, Fall Out Boy, Weezer and the All-American Rejects), so his pop instincts are impeccable. Opening solo at the piano, Walker launched into a dramatic reading of an obscure Marvelous 3 song "Cigarette Lighter Love Song", and the faithful were already rewarded.
The night was heavily weighted to songs of despair and unrequited love, though there were certainly a couple of requited love songs too. Drawing heavily on the brand new I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart and 2008's Sycamore Meadows, Walker exhibited an endearing awkwardness (admitting to one too many pre-show shots) and a willingness to play all night (he was apparently steamed that tonight's New York show had to end by 10:30 to make room for roller disco). He seamlessly segued a snippet of James' lusty "Laid" into his equally carnal "Taste of Red".
The night ended with a banjo-fied "Rich Girl" (Walker was happy to be able to play it in Hall & Oates hometown) and a roof-raising, arena-rocking "Hot Girls in Good Moods", which accurately took the temperature of the room. Walker has star quality, and as always, the little girls understand.
Butch Walker - Trash Day
Butch Walker - Pretty Melody