Morgan Wade stunned at Bowery Ballroom with Kaitlin Butts (review, videos)
As soon as I walked into Bowery Ballroom last night (3/1) for the second of Morgan Wade's two sold-out shows at the NYC venue, I could tell I was in for something special. Her name was sprawled across the stage's backdrop in big, bold font, and in front of that was an extravagant light show setup. Even just from that alone, it looked like the stage setup of an artist who's going to be headlining much bigger rooms very soon, and as soon as Morgan took the stage, she proved that she has the larger-than-life presence to do exactly that.
Morgan walked out to Halsey's "I Am Not A Woman, I'm A God," picked up her cowboy-style acoustic guitar, and she and her band went right into "Don't Cry," one of the many highlights from her breakthrough 2021 album Reckless. Her band is super tight and super talented, and Morgan is an ultra-cool frontperson, hitting the crowd with a thousand yard stare as her voice soared through the mix in a way that looked damn near effortless. She's a country singer with a thick Virginia drawl, and as a performer she toes the line between pop appeal and punk grit. She's just as magnetic playing her acoustic guitar on the more somber songs as she is when she puts the guitar down and moves around the stage for the more upbeat ones. She and her band are also just as much a country band as they are a rock band, with plenty of guitar solos to boot, not to mention a fiery medley of The Outfield's "Your Love" and Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" (and a tease of Lit's "My Own Worst Enemy" at the end of set-closer "Wilder Days"). There wasn't a single dull moment in the set, and Morgan already has the arsenal of great songs needed to make 90 minutes fly by, almost all of which came just from Reckless alone.
The 3/1 show was doubly great because this one was opened by Kaitlin Butts, who's fresh off releasing her very good new album What Else Can She Do. Kaitlin played solo, and I'd love to see her with her band, but she was great in this stripped-back form too. She played much of What Else Can She Do, alongside some earlier material and a great cover of Billie Eilish's "Happier Than Ever," and her songs were made even more powerful by the genuinely tear-jerking background stories she told in between. The loving crowd welcomed her and cheered her on at every turn, and when she rose her voice to the upper register at the end of "It Won't Always Be This Way," her powerhouse pipes had the place roaring in approval.
The tour continues with a sold-out Boston show tonight (3/2), and Morgan and Kaitlin will remain on the road together through April. Both artists also play Stagecoach. Morgan will be back in the NYC-area when her acoustic tour hits Tarrytown Music Hall on May 5. All Morgan dates here. All Kaitlin dates here.
Check out some videos from the show below...