The unobservant may have seen a sleepy or even bored crowd at Duckwrth’s Oct. 1 show at the Majestic Theatre. However, that was far from the case. They were under his spell. All night the audience mouthed along with their eyes locked on the stage, hypnotized.
“Everyone was on the same wavelength,” said Kevin, a Madison local.
The house lights went down at 8 p.m., fading into the blue of the stage lights as “Righteous” by Juice WRLD played and fans congregated with their friends to chat as we waited.
The lights went to pink and red as “I Can’t Wait” by Georgia played. They continued to change with the songs: yellow and peach, green and blue, blue and purple.
The steel railings rattled from the bass as the modest crowd grew to a full house.
At 9 p.m. the band entered the stage to roars, strapping themselves into their instruments. A thumbs up from bass guitarist and keyboardist Budda Foster to the stage crew signaled we were starting.
Then there was Duckwrth — no opener. Wearing an open black blazer with his bare chest underneath, his first song was his 2016 track “I’M DEAD.”
The song finishes, and he strikes a pose.
“Welcome to the Chrome Bull Tour,” he said. “I hope to God it comes out in the next three weeks [but] this is now an official Chrome Bull listening session.”
Duckwrth then performed two songs off his yet-to-be-released EP “Chrome Bull” that followed through on his promise for the new music to have “a solid groove.” The first track included the line “Do you still believe in me?” and the latter repeated, “I’m begging, I’m begging, I’m begging.”
“Let me ask y’all something: what time is booty call hour?” he asked the crowd. “This next song is called ‘11:30.’”
The crowd bopped along in the pit, never breaking eye contact with Duckwrth’s graceful sliding figure. His shirtlessness and hip-centric dancing lead me to no conclusion other than this show likely being a fundamentally different experience for his fans who are male-attracted.
The next song went, “The only thing I’m trying to catch is feelings for you,” or something similar. He followed it up with the story about how he wrote it during the peak of pandemic anxiety.
“I was scared as s—” he shared with the crowd while telling the story of his first hookup after the pandemic lockdown. He said it was the first time he recognized what it meant to be anxious and thought about all the other times in his life he had felt anxiety but had not known what to call it.
“But I still got it,” he concluded the story with a laugh, referring to the hookup.
The next track had the line, “I was 17 with a handful of wonder,” as Duckwrth and the band slid around the stage.
We were now at 9:30 and the band took a quick hiatus while drummer Darryl Staves Jr. more than impressed in a solo. Then accompanying singer who goes by Just Liv reentered the stage, getting the crowd clapping along before Duckwrth returned with a new outfit to perform the track “Power Power” which was released earlier this year.
After that, he teased the audience by asking his band, “You think they know this one?” before playing “Crush” — one of his biggest hits.
The entranced crowd needed reminding to bounce along. With Duckwrth’s gentle yet commanding gestures, the hypnotized crowd obliged for the next couple tracks — Madison crowds are well-trained at bouncing up and down.
“I don’t know if y’all want to do one more song,” he baited the fans, struggling to open a plastic water bottle. “F— this water,” he said, tossing it aside. “If you want this last one, can I get a ‘Hell yeah?’”
This was a minor demand, given the crowd would have injured themselves attempting triple backflips if he requested it.
“It was everything; it was amazing,” Madison resident Angelina said. “The energy was immaculate. It didn’t feel like your space was invaded; everyone was down to have a good time.”
As for my experience — I have been to shows of my favorite bands then left no longer a fan of the group, but this is the first instance I went to a show without being a big listener and left considering myself a fan.
Duckwrth is a graceful, gentle enchanter with enough charm to get in and out of as many top secret military research facilities as he wants. Lucky for us, he chooses to write and perform music.
You will have a great time at his show.
Jeffrey Brown is a former Arts Editor for the Daily Cardinal. He writes for The Beet occasionally and does some drawing and photography too. He is a senior majoring in Sociology. Do not feed him after midnight.