Last Friday, The John Bulter Trio landed at one of Chicago’s most intimate venues, Schubas. The group has been touring the US in support of their debut album Three for the past few months, racking up dates with John Mayer, Guster, and Dave Matthews. Now, JBT’s headlining tour is giving fans a chance to see the band up-close and personal. Frontman John Butler writes all of the songs and provides the group’s musical backbone – bad ass, growling slide guitar. Throughout the night, his masterful, passionate performance inspired the enthusiastic crowd and nearly brought down the house.
The venue was filled with an eclectic mix of hippies, indie rockers, and recent college grads/businesspeople, none of which hesitated at the chance to shake their asses, clap, yell, and scream. And who could blame them? The John Butler Trio filled every minute of their set with more than enough energy to power the neighborhood for a week. Butler’s aggressive slide guitar attack was incredible. Seriously, it was sick. He rotated between three different guitars throughout the evening and made those things unleash sounds I’ve never heard before. He slapped, punched, and abused his axes with reckless abandon, and his supporting cast fed off of the music. Bassist Andrew Fry and drummer Jason McGann didn’t miss a beat and were no slouches when jam session time rolled around either.
JBT ran though a good portion of Three and expanded many of the album tracks by a few minutes. “Betterman,” the first single, “Pickapart,” and the closer, “Take,” all featured some serious experimentation and improvisation, including a five-to-ten-minute drum circle that was definitely a fan favorite.
This band definitely has its underground network of fans in place and they are some of the most enthusiastic I’ve seen in quite a while. As the word spreads about the JBT live experience, that close-knit group is sure grow by leaps and bounds. Just ask people in his native Australia. Three has already reached Aussie gold status.