Train and Butch Walker rock Carnegie Hall
Butch Walker & the Black Widows
When the lights dimmed on a roaring audience this past Thursday night, one could barely make out the faint outline of the lone man standing onstage. Suddenly, the chords of a guitar twanged and a spotlight lit up upon the man as he jumped about the stage and belted into the microphone. After a moment, the rest of the band members began to trickle on stage and pick up their instruments, adding to the momentum already building behind the show.
“I’m Butch Walker and these are the Black Widows,” he said, gesturing to those on stage with him.
Walker was born in Cartersville, Ha. in 1969 and gained prominence as a strong performer in numerous bands in the 1980s. After being a member of both Marvelous 3 and SouthGang, he decided to start his solo career in 2002. During this time, he also wrote hit songs for other artists, including Pete Yorn, Fall Out Boy, The All-American Rejects, Weezer, and Dashboard Confessional. His latest album, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart, was released on Feb. 23, under the name Butch Walker & the Black Widows.
The set they played Thursday was high in energy. With lots of encouragement from the band for crowd participation, the audience sang along, clapped with the beat, and screamed wildly. Walker entertained the audience with amazing tricks, like throwing his guitar pick under his leg and catching it in midair, or throwing his guitar across the stage to a roadie near the end of a song.
“I’m doing good. I’m doing better than good. I’m having fun,” Butch remarked halfway through the show, a feeling obviously echoed by all members of the audience.
During a song in which Walker played the banjo, Pat Monahan of Train walked onstage with a gigantic mustache on his face, much to the amusement of the audience, and started singing with Walker. The crowd’s cheering and laughter could be heard throughout the show. No doubt about it, everyone was enjoying themselves.
The set ended with what could only be described as an epic performance. Midway through the song, Walker jumped on a drum and played his guitar behind his head. After jumping off, he proceeded to break three strings at once. By the end of the song, all but one of the strings was broken.
“I had more fun watching them perform than any other band I’ve seen,” remarked James Wolpert, a first-year CFA student. After a performance like that, it was hard to imagine whether Train could top it.
The first song Train played was “Parachute,” a popular song off their new album, Save Me, San Francisco. After playing “Get to Me,” the band started the chords of “Drops of Jupiter,” but, much to the disappointment of the crowd, stopped after a few seconds.
Monahan laughed into the microphone and said, “I know it’s a Thursday night, but you guys aren’t ready for that yet.” Instead, the band played “Meet Virginia,” a hit single off their debut album, Train.
During the bridge of “She’s on Fire,” Monahan said, “I don’t know if I can go on. I’m exhausted. I need a couple of girls to help me.” When a few girls from the front rows were picked to go on stage, they were given shirts to put on that said “Trainettes” on them. They were then taught to sing the part “she’s on fire,” and Monahan encouraged the crowd to sing along.
For “When I Look to the Sky,” Monahan announced that he was going to sing the song “without a microphone standing between me and you,” and the crowd went dead silent as he stood on the edge of the stage and sang, projecting out to the crowd using only his raw voice.
“I don’t have a Superman shirt, but I do have a Super Train shirt,” Monahan said, pulling on a Super Train shirt before singing “Save the Day.” He also pulled up a girl in the front row who was wearing a similar shirt, which she bought from the merchandise table. Monahan improvised a song where he sang about how they were wearing the same shirt.
He ended the set with the recent hit single “Hey Soul Sister.” As the lights dimmed and the band walked off the stage, the audience continued cheering and clapping, shouting for an encore. The band soon came back and finished the night with two songs: “Drops of Jupiter” and a cover of “Dance the Night Away.”
Perhaps the most memorable part of the night was when Monahan shared a story that he learned from what he called “my therapist, mainly because I paid her a lot of money to talk to me.” Monahan described how during his world tour he felt frustrated because he wasn’t happy and he wondered what he needed. When he asked his therapist, she replied, “you’re made of two people: the traitor that says you’re not beautiful or worthy, and the angel that tells you that you are beautiful and deserving.” Maybe it’s time to start listening to that angel.