Words & Images by: Seth Rubin

John Butler Trio :: 05.23.07 :: 9:30 Club :: Washington, DC

John Butler :: 05.23 :: Washington, DC
Following a brilliant performance by Kaki King; John Butler, Shannon Birchall (bass), and Michael Barker (drums) took the stage to an energetic and emotionally charged, packed house at DC's famous 9:30 Club. Butler, sitting on a short platform, surrounded with effects pedals, began the evening on harmonica leading into "Daniella" (off Grand National) and a thunderous applause.

For the next hour, the trio ripped through a selection of tunes from the 2000's JBT EP and self-titled full length, 2004's Sunrise Over Sea, and most notably, 2007's Grand National. For his new release, Butler wrote about love and understanding, and conversely, the lack of both. He sings of his devoted love for his wife and his comfort within family life, a departure from his previous happiness within solitude. Meanwhile, he demonstrates his romantic, old-fashioned values in tracks such as the aforementioned "Daniella," as well as the upbeat "Funky Tonight" and the mellow "Groovin' Slowly."

John Butler Trio :: 05.23
"Better Than" and "Good Excuse" speak of understanding and the different ways people choose to view their lives and react, or cope, with life's challenges. Butler tells us to be happy with what you have, rejoice in where you are, and realize that "the grass is greener but just as hard to mow" – a Little Richard quote captured in "Better Than."

After a brief reprieve, Butler returned solo for a mesmerizing, finger-picked guitar solo that served as a warm lead-in to the crowd favorite "Peaches & Cream." Butler's voice was joined by hundreds of inspired fans, who drew closer and closer to the stage in hopes of catching Butler's regular "Peaches & Cream" stage-front appearance. As Birchall and Barker returned to stage, Butler rose to his feet, threw up his arms and spoke to the crowd with words of peace and love. Stage lights lit up the huge smiles and the outstretched arms of the girls and guys who revere Butler for his music, his message and fine locked looks. With the crowd in his hands, Butler asked in a boisterous voice, "Can you FEEL the LOVE?!"

They closed out the show with the rockin "Funky Tonight," and further inspirational speech. A lengthy and surely amazing performance came to its inevitable end, but not before the band greeted awestruck fans still hanging on the stage, awaiting a glance, a hand, a smile.

John Butler :: 05.23 :: Washington, DC
JamBase | Washington, DC
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[Published on: 6/22/07]

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nuke_ticketbastard starstarstarstar Fri 6/22/2007 05:43AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

strange , i was just saying i would like to see kaki and butler at vegoose this year and here is a show review w/ both of them!!
p.s. - FIRST!

thecurtainhasclosed Fri 6/22/2007 06:12AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i saw JBT @ Sonar in Bmore, then @ Jam on the River. Then again last week at Bonnaroo. I have to say, I'm bored as hell of John Butler Trio. SAME SHOW EVERYWHERE THEY GO. yea, its good, but some variety is also good. This review of the 9:30 Club could be a review of any John Butler show and it would still apply. Good band, but extremely boring after 2 or 3 times.

bfriedman1018 starstarstarstar Fri 6/22/2007 06:34AM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
duttongc Fri 6/22/2007 07:47AM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Not to burst your bubble, but just cause kids dress preppy doesn't mean they are bad people. Did it ever occur to you that they may really like JBT and took the time to get to the show early and secure a spot up close? Just cause you are "dancing your way to the front" doesn't mean you have a right to get to the front.

kmilldog53 Fri 6/22/2007 07:57AM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Not to burst your bubble duttongc - which i hope is a reference to G-love. But most of the Popped collar kids also don't know when to shut their mouth at shows. Screaming to their friends - not facing the band. Ruins the good vibes coming from a sick band.

soulgrass Fri 6/22/2007 08:22AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Not everybody can get to a show two hours before hand, but IMO if someone wants to float to the front because they are into it, then let them. No need to be a dick about it! If its a group of 20, then thats a different story. I can't stand popped collars. JBT brought the house down the two years I saw them at ACL festival. Haven't heard the new CD though.

Ladyjam Fri 6/22/2007 09:01AM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

The show at 9:30 was spectacular...except for this one bastard by me who was upfront and kept yelling "I love George Bush" (and other variations of that). Then also, an obnoxious "yiggity yiggity yeah" which I wouldn't have minded if it was honest enthusiasm, but he was purposely doing it to be annoying. Boo on concert spoilers.

iamkickinit Fri 6/22/2007 10:00AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I love JBT, they hold a huge spot in my heart of music. I saw them 3 times on this tour, Detroit, Indy and Bonnaroo... All shows were pretty much the same. I understand that this is the CD release tour, but c'mon, throw in a cover or 2! Do something to make each show unique.

JB is a great song writer, and a master of his 11 string, but the popped collars are gonna do nothing but increase as time goes on. Both Indy and Detroit shows were sponsered by local radio stations. I believe last spring the JBT also signed on with the same management team as DMB... yikes, we all know what that means.

Crowd is BS at his shows, and although they all still have virtually identical setlists, I still Love their work. Ocean is quite possibly the best acoustic instrumental song thats ever been written, period. If you disagree, what is better?

adamwn starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/22/2007 10:05AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


good story. i actually read the whole thing. jbt is great. too bad the concerts sometimes get ruined for some people. i would love to see him, even if it were with a room full of preppy kids.

21mmer Fri 6/22/2007 12:00PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


iamkickinit- not that familiar w/ the jbt, but i have heard ocean. pick up John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, and Paco DeLucia "Friday Night in San Francisco" for the best acoustic instrumental stuff i can think of.

welfpack Fri 6/22/2007 12:06PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

people still pop their collars?

nuke_ticketbastard Fri 6/22/2007 12:24PM
+7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

interesting debate on the "crowd float" issue ,
heres my 2c. - i think it does depend alot on the band , the venue , the size of the crowd , etc...
for instance if your at a huge outdoor venue and everybody is just gettin down dancin it up no one will probably care if you dance your way anywhere you want to.
on the other hand if you are at a sold out show in a 5,000 head venue and you think you are going to show up 5 minute before the band comes on and squeeze your way to the front through an already elbow to elbow crowd then you will probably catch an elbow!
makes me think of a couple months ago i went to see a band at 4 diff places in a 2 week span 1 night i was front row right against the stage - it was sick!
next night still got there early but there was 10 times as many people so i could only get about 5 rows out . my friend says lets go up to the front ( no room ) and i was not moving up to steal somebody elses spot or stand right in front of someone who got there before i did.
so we stayed 5th rowish - not so bad and then like 45 minutes later during the end of the opening act these 2 clueless girls shove their way in front of us and start talking and looking around behind us for their friends so they could come up with them! well moments later after i heard the one girl say " who is this band ? " they went to get beers and said " save our spots " - RIGHT!
as far as the popped collars whatever.. eventually you will ( hopefully ) realize that what clothes people wear is irrelevant for many reasons
just remember " do unto others " , have fun and be happy to dance your ass off no matter how close you can get to the stage!!!!! ok that may have been 3 cents worth

phishr82 Fri 6/22/2007 12:44PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


a nice little rant kizzy1, i do agree with the clothes thing. hippies live in a giant glass house, if you know what i mean, when it comes to clothing. i think a lot of people dress like asses, but a lot of people probably think i dress like an ass. it is what it is i guess

laxma13951 Fri 6/22/2007 01:30PM
+8 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

...Everyone loves to bitch about something. Its either you're too cool for the music, or you're not cool enough. Take a big breath, and RELAX!

p.s. It's not always about YOU

cuttyfives Fri 6/22/2007 05:39PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

popped collars are wack...i wish i was a shitbrickhouse so i could toss all the d bags w/popped collars.

Greatwaves Sat 6/23/2007 06:56AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


ive noticed this type of crowd at a few shows, unfortanatly X Rudd, some keller shows, Dave Matthews of course, but yeah it is a bummer. i almost got in a fight cause some ass elbowed my back cause i stepped on his foot.. i let him know he was completely unreasonable and that at shows people step on feet.
AS for crowd noise, sometimes i wish people would just shut up, especially in a low toned quieter show like JBT, Xrudd or Keller.....
But come on people the back is where its at,if you like to dance that is
more room better people, no harsh vibes

SHRUBIN starstarstarstarstar Sat 6/23/2007 10:36AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


For plenty more photos from this show... Check em!

mreezal Sat 6/23/2007 12:30PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


act a fool

cliftonhanger420 Sun 6/24/2007 11:54AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i thought popped collars went out with the 80's?
i agree that you can't show up at the last minute for a show and expect to push your way to the front, that's called being an asshole. i also don't agree with popping your collar, elbowing people, and being loud and obnoxious, that's being an asshole. just remember, "it doesn't matter what you wear, just as long as you are there". no matter how you dress or what you drive, being an asshole is being an asshole.

Mountainboogie starstarstarstar Sun 6/24/2007 12:09PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


What a bunch of freaks dwelling on and on about subjective qualities of the band and their fans. I'm going to check out JBT for the first time with Spearhead at Red Rocks this Sat, can't wait! Just tuning in to see what to expect. Wishing I found more about the music than a critical subjective discussion on style and assholes. PEACE.

theivywall starstarstarstarstar Sun 6/24/2007 10:43PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



....jbt is awesome, saw them at the riveiera for the first time about three weeks ago and I was totally blown away, I wish I could breathe as well as John Butler plays guitar, his band ain't too shabby either. There was a good amount more jammin' at the show I was at than I expected, actually. Would definately catch him again...

unless he starts wearing collared shirts and popping the collar....I mean...that would really cheapen his music for me...

Jerryrocks991 starstarstarstar Mon 6/25/2007 09:25AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I was at the show and i would have to disagree with the guy earlier who said it was filled with preppy's. From where i was it was a pretty normal 930 crowd, and if you want to be at the front get to the show early, if you don't shut your damn mouth and listen to the music from where u are, and there is not a single bad spot in that club. Also if you're gonna complain about people talking listen to the recording here-, there was some talking, but people mostly got into it, especially during Peaches and Cream where the whole crowd joined in.

Matty Boh starstarstarstarstar Tue 6/26/2007 12:39AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I chose to check out the Sonar show the night before and was definitely groovin. The last times I saw JBT was at Bonnaroo '05 (amazing) and then later that year in October (?) at this very place, 930 club. I do agree, and almost rather prefer being a bit farther back to see these boys... I was right by the soundboard and could get a great view and aural presence of their sound at this venue. I will agree that their setlist is very similiar recently, but i don't really care because they do it so well. Sonar was the first gig on the tour so I felt special in a way. Daniella has evolved since its initial jam back in the day (harmonica is SICK), and Old Man and Treat yo mama always make me response to the second post, after 3 times of seeing the JBT, i only want to see them more.... More importantly, I'm still not sure why everyone is all about getting to the front row to see a band...sure its awesome to be 5 feet away from them...but personally I'm all about having some elbow room and trying to groove to the music without having some dude all in my kool-aid...pluis being close to the front only makes it THAT much harder to get to the bar for the next round :)

Promontory Rider starstarstarstarstar Tue 6/26/2007 01:14PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Promontory Rider

Dreadlock Inhalation

petemags5 starstarstar Wed 6/27/2007 11:50AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


JBT is really good, with more time and a broader music selection I can only see them getting better and better.
As for the Popped collared preppies and hippies alike, they should all know the 3 basic Live Show Rulz:
1) Listen, don't talk.
2) Dance your space or loose your space.
3) Fill in or get bumped.
3a) If some rude bastard cuts in front of you during a show (From you stupidly not dancing and filling in), politely ask them to move on... If they don't, just cut in front of then like they did to you. They will give you a dirty look, but karma is on your side.
It's not too tough people treat people like you would like to be treated.
Oh, btw I still don't know what I am... A Preppie or a Hippie? I must be one seeing there is absolutely no crossover between the two? Oh, I haven't popped my collar since the 80's so I must be a hippie, but I have a job so I must be a preppie.
Hold on…
Well I just called my local ashram and they say that having attended over 50 Dead show w/ Jerry makes me a hippie… Wow, that's a relief!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/28/2007 05:18AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

I am a music fan. :-)
John Butler Trio smokes. nuff said.

greenreba86 Fri 6/29/2007 12:31PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

JBT blew me away in Detroit (1st show), was a little redundant but i still got down in indy (2nd show) and then for my third at bonnaroo when he played exactly the same songs he played at the previous two shows i saw him at i was a little bored. (but still danced of course). Myabe they are just not a band people can tour with. It's like, you go to the show thats in your area but you can't really follow em. Regardless they are awesome and very very talented. three great shows even though a little variety was needed. And as far as crowd and how everyone else is dressing goes- who gives as shit? why does it bother you if you are there to see the music? focus ont he bands energy and letting the music take you to that special place. ( I did really find it amusing when some girl came up to me and said something to the effect of my boyfriend being john butler because they both have dreds..... so sometimes i agree it is hard to overlook the crowd but do your best! :) ).

greenreba86 Fri 6/29/2007 12:33PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

also- great review, well written