Concert Review + Photography: The Builders and The Butchers at Schubas Tavern (Chicago)

The Builders and The Butchers (Portland, OR)
April 5th, 2011
Schubas Tavern Chicago, IL

Empty mason jars with white lights lined the stage of Schubas back room as the five members of The Butchers and The Builders took to the stage. This simple and slight addition gave the audience a feel of sitting on a porch in the middle of the night down south. They opened with “The Night Pt. 2” as the song began to crescendo the audience drew in closer to the stage. As if they were being hypnotized by the music they started stomping the floor in unison to the strong beat. Ray Rude and Brandon Hafer beat the drums and various other percussion instruments like wild men.

Lead singer and guitarist, Ryan Sollee is a kind and cordial man off stage and in the green room. Once he steps foot on the stage it’s almost like he has voodoo blood in his veins. During “Spanish Death Song” Sollee became intoxicating and mesmerizing, as if being possessed by the devil himself. The Builders and The Butchers played old favorites and many songs off their new album, Dead Reckoning. The fans dedication was clear in so many areas, not only was the Tuesday night show almost sold out, but practically every single song gave way to a sing-a-long. The band even dedicated a song to loyal fan, Darcy who had been to every single one of their Chicago shows.

It is impossible to watch these five men perform and not move your body. During the song, “Black Elevator” one of the drummers started out on the keyboard, moving effortlessly back to the drums while the other switched to the mandolin. The intensity of percussionists Hafer and Rude can only be described as two wildebeests attacking a herd of wounded giraffe. It’s beautiful to watch and impossible to look away.

The five men may have congregated to Portland, OR from Alaska but it certainly doesn’t show. Their music and live show will transport you to the riverwalk or the French Quarter in New Orleans. I can’t describe it any better than simply, spellbinding. They played their set seamlessly and flawless. There was certainly a bit of voodoo magic in the air at Schubas, and what I can guess is at every show they play. For the first encore Sollee brought out a giant duffel bag and unloaded dozens of small musical instruments. Cymbals, maracas, shakers and tiny drums were tossed out into the eager audience. Joining the band on stage was Damion Suomi and Elliott BROOD as they marched off stage to play the middle of the venue, as the audience gathered around.

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