Christchurch based 5 piece The Butlers cruised into Auckland over the weekend to get people boogieing at Anthology K Road. The dreamy, rocky and indie sound of these dudes promised a night that will bring milky musical goodness into your earholes.
After arriving at the misinformed door opening time of 8pm thanks to UnderTheRadar, I sat at the bar beside the venue to see frontman Walt Robberds stroll up with his guitar in a dapper navy blue coat that signalled the arrival of The Butlers. I sat down with him to talk about their new album’s inclusion of a saxophone.
"Yeah, defo. We all live together you see and we all spent a lot of time trying to get that back and forth in a lot of the solos and get that call and response sort of thing," shared Robberds.
"We have always wanted a horn and stuff in there and then we saw Stingy play at a jazz bar in Christchurch one night and were like ah yeah this guy has a good presence about him and the next thing we know he showed up at practice and just smashed it from there, just fit in straight away you know... one of the boys."
After excusing himself to quickly sell a surfboard, I then had a chat with lead guitarist Bradley King about what gear he uses to achieve the dreamy tone with the saxophone. Last time we spoke was just before Kool and The Gang was about to come on at The Summer's Day Disco.
"You see I try and keep it simple. I have a DD7, a classic, a little tubescreamer and the Electroharmonix Cathedral. You see that’s who I am really, I am kind of confused and unaware… I need to get more focused… yeah, 3 pedals and a tuner haha I just kind of wing it every night, you see I don’t have a pedal board either so I just chuck em in a bag and throw them back out of stage every time we play." He confessed.
Kicking off the night at 9.30 was local 4 piece Kingsland with driving rocky rhythms that saw kicks slam on every beat, screaming guitar bends by lead guitarist Jared Gullett and grunting chants from the cowboy hat wearing lead singer Will Giles. The sold-out venue began to bounce, twist and twirl as the group brought on a heat with tracks Out on a Limb, Ballad, Drag and new track Strawberry Skies. With a touch of slapback echo on the vocals, the group sounded like authentic rock n roll with a jazzy/bluesy spin that set the mood perfectly for the main act.
With low humming feedback and a now stuffed venue, The Butlers surfed onto the stage with beach blonde hair and a sort of cardboard knight’s helmet on the saxophonist – who had been in costume since arrival. The ready crowd wailed with joy as the first track of the evening Introduction washed over them like an intoxicating wave of gloomy, yet strangely happy, overtones that the group is known for.
Hearing the call and response of the saxophone and guitar live really brought to mind that milky, silky goodness that was promised – smooth twangy solos hopped around the pentatonic as mellow melody lines by the horn danced in a kind of pantomime.
First impressions saw a well-balanced mix that allowed each instrument to shine through and a dedicated crowd that sang along to the track’s lyrics. The bar was now flowing, the toilet had a line that stretched out onto the dance floor and the crowd compressed against the stage as the more lovey song Rum came rolling in. This track really sees The Pixies inspiration here from the frontman.
One of the crowd favourites Cats on the Cliff was next which cried sultry wah guitar and bellowing sax lines that raised the ceiling as well as hands. A mix of chequered cotton shirts, floral dresses and psychedelic attire danced with one another as feet shuffled in harmony – the vibe was energetic, full of laughter and saw a sea of grooving smiles.
Keeping this vibe going throughout the set, The Butlers continued to please the crowd over and over; each song rearing the audience to explosive tangents of joy and sing-alongs with lovely couples matching to boot. One of the two singles released leading on to the new self-titled album, Leopard of Sweet Dreams got the crowd to a point of climax that could not contain itself.
Ending the night with arguably their most popular track No Good Nina off the album Frederick's Friends, The Butlers put on a mean as show that oozed with kiwi spirit and energy. Although these dudes seemed down to earth in person, up on stage they soared with otherworldly confidence and a dynamic that really did bring milky goodness into my earholes.
The Butlers' setlist
- Cats on the Cliff
- Lizards on the White Wall
- Are You Sure
- I Think I Thunk
- Why do I Keep Going Back?
- Full Noise
- Leopard of Sweet Dreams
- 91 Unleaded
- Vodka's What You're Drinking
- No Good Nina