Live Review: The Fever 333, O2 Islington Academy, London 22/08/2018
Jason Aalon Butler may be most well known for being the lead vocalist of punk band letlive, but within the past year, he has brought a fever to stages across America. This fever, is The Fever 333. Taking a departure from letlive has allowed Butler to put his passion into a band that fights for subjects that really do matter with the current political climate. Whilst previously singing about subjects close to his heart, it feels that The Fever 333 really focus on what is wrong with America following the election of Donald Trump. Playing alongside him is former ‘The Chariot’ guitarist Stevis Harrison, and ‘Night Verses’ drummer Aric Improta.
We were able to catch the band play their first ever UK show live at the O2 Academy in Islington, the night before they hit the stage at the Heavy Music Awards. Bringing no supports on stage with them, the band kicked off at 8:45pm with old-western style music playing leading up to it, and a giant sheet covering the stage. Before getting into the venue however, fans were handed a mock-up newsletter and a free pin as they walked in. This tied in well with the exhibitionism of the night, as the band referred to it as a ‘demonstration’ rather than a tour or concert. It felt more like walking into an art gallery and being passed leaflets in relation to the event, compared to your standard gig. Everything about the night was so thought out and well put together in a way that enticed everyone in to the message.
Before seeing the band on stage, Jason Butler stood in front of the sheet covering the stage and stood completely still with a black burlap sack on his head. This went on for quite a while with a build up of music and the crowd waiting in anticipation. We were all waiting for something to suddenly happen, and then the sheet got ripped down and the stage was filled with more people unknown faces covered by burlap sacks. The band went straight in with ‘Burnt It’, closely followed by ‘We’re Coming In’ as they ripped the sacks off their head and went crazy on stage. There was so much going on, it was hard to tell where to look, which really added to the atmosphere and set the tone for the evening. The crowd knew at that point, they were in for something wild.
The band went on to play other songs from their EP ‘Made an America’, as well as other unreleased tracks. The night was something rarely seen on stage anymore, with Butler climbing the scaffolding of the building and hanging from the balcony, then jumping down and getting right into another track. It would be a hard challenge to find someone that delivers as much constant energy as Jason does on stage, and the rest of the band lived up to this too. Even the drummer got up and moved about, at one point taking part of the drum set across the stage with him. Now, I’ve been to a lot of gigs in my time, but never have I seen a drummer move that much. This band is what punk is all about, and they are not one to miss out on. To simplify it to the terms of a ‘gig’ would be a disrespect to the band, as it was so much more than that.
The only time the tone came down was when Butler spoke about his son and his departure from letlive. He said he was in a pretty bad place when departing letlive, but being in The Fever 333 really helped him to get out of that bad place, and he paid his respects to them on stage, as well as his respects to his son. He commented on the current political state of America, saying he doesn’t want his son to be a part of that, and much of what he does with the band, is for his son. He gave a moving speech which really showed us a vulnerable side to him.
Later, Butler would ask the crowd to close their eyes. He asked if anyone has ever felt part of a minority, like they don’t belong, or if they’ve ever been told they’re not good enough. If the answer was yes, he asked them to raise their hand. Everyone then opened their eyes to see the whole room had raised their hands, and whenever anyone in that room felt like they were alone, they should remember that everyone in this room felt just the same. Overall, Jason Aalon and the band really connected with the crowd in a way that’s hard to put across in words. The only way to truly experience it, would be to go and check the band out on stage when you can. You will not be disappointed.
Words and Photography by Hayley Fearnley