UCR On Tour: Mitch Rowland

Mitch Rowland • Harper Harris • Butch Bastard • February 26, 2024 • Fonda Theatre, Hollywood.

Reviewed and Photographed by Josilyn Wakkuri Lybbert

I am always happy for a reason to go to Los Angeles, especially if it’s for a concert! When Mitch Rowland announced that he was embarking on his first ever headline tour and there wasn’t going to be a show in Utah, I was pleased to see that he, joined by Butch Bastard and Harris Harper, would be stopping at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood!

I’ve seen Mitch perform nine times in the last five years as Harry Styles’ guitarist, but this was the first time that I going to get to see him as a headliner! I was so excited for him and to see him do his thing!

When I arrived to the stunning Fonda theater on Monday, February 26 there were lines of fans down the sidewalk, which was a portion of the Hollywood walk of fame, on either side of the entrance to the venue. Some had been waiting for a handful of hours, others had been there for about an hour, all hoping to get a good spot for the show. Some fans had been able to purchase a “skip the line” pass that allowed them to enter the building before the general public. As a frequent concert goer, I thought that that was a great idea because typically the alternative for general admission shows would be to camp outside the venue, which definitely presents its challenges and safety concerns.

The inside of the Fonda Theater was ornate! People flocked to fun photo opportunities and photo booths for fans to document their night well others stood in line to purchase Mitch merch prior to the show starting.

Butch Bastard

Mitch’s former pizza shop coworker, Butch Bastard, was first act of the night. With a stage name like that, I was wondering if his music would possibly give off an angsty, tough vibe, but I guessed wrong! His whole set was mellow and peaceful, filled with comforting vocals and skilled guitar playing. Between songs, Butch asked the crowd, “Are you guys excited to see Mitch?” which was of course met with applause and cheering. He mentioned that Mitch himself played drums on the record for the following song!

Something I thought the Utah readers would appreciate was a lyric in one of Butch’s songs mentioned something about the Utah Jazz – I wish I could find the song to share the full context, but it felt like a fun little subconscious nod to my adventure there from Utah! During another song, the crowd put their arms up in the air and swayed them to the beat of the music, and Butch said, “Yeah! I like that!” Fans gave Butch Bastard a warm reception, reveled in his talent, and undoubtedly enjoyed his set! 

Harris Harper

Photo Credit: Josylin Wakkuri Lybbert

Up next was Harris Harper, joined by her brother CJ Harper! I had seen the duo twice before when they performed a song with their father, Ben Harper, when he opened for Harry Styles’ Love On Tour shows in Inglewood, CA. Even from that small exposure to their craft, I knew all of us at the Fonda were in for a treat! Harris’ voice had a very sweet tone that matched perfectly to the soft, beautiful songs she and CJ were playing.

When CJ would jump in and harmonize with Harris, their voices blended perfectly! The music they were performing reminded me a lot of their dad’s. It’s not often that I’m at a concert and the atmosphere is so peaceful that think to myself, “Gosh, it would be nice to just sit down and close my eyes,” but that’s definitely how I felt when listening to Harris play and sing. The only other time a venue has ever felt so tranquil like it did at the Fonda was at the Forum with Ben Harper on the stage. It was cool to see the similarities between the two acts! The pair of siblings had the concert goers mesmerized by their beautiful music!

Mitch Rowland

Photo Credit: Josylin Wakkuri Lybbert

Soon after, it was time for the main event! Fans “barked” (which is a funny thing to try to explain. Think of it as another form of clapping and cheering) as Mitch Rowland took the stage with his band. Which consisted of four members other than himself, including his wife, Sarah Jones, on drums. As he and the band played the first song, between the serenity of the music and the warm glow of the stage lights, I realized that we were all a part of a unique concert scene that night.

In my opinion, all concerts are a joy to attend. But with this show in particular, right off the bat, Rowland facilitated an environment that certainly made me feel at ease in a way that most shows don’t. The second song was, “Bluebells,” which was one of the singles from his debut album, Come June. Following, “Bluebells,” he played an unreleased song, which was so good! Throughout the show, the fans would continue their “barking”. Mitch would joke, “Are you heckling me?”. When introducing the song, “When It All Falls Down,” he described it as a tiny song that means a lot of things. Mentioning that it was likely written with a “red mouth”. Which he clarified that it was likely that a lot of red wine was involved! Like all of Mitch’s songs, “When It All Falls Down,” was a melodic, easy listen!

As the show continued, there were several moments where each band member’s talents were able to be showcased! While Mitch mentioned that he made the record with all of the people on stage with him, this was only the second show of the tour. I was so impressed with how well they meshed together as they played!

Mitch asked the crowd if everyone was doing alright. Someone yelled and asked him the same question. He, in true Mitch fashion, quietly replied, “I’m just fine.” As he was preparing another guitar for the next song he said that his wife had Sarah teased, “You don’t want it to look like a guitar shop!”

Mitch and the band skillfully played through every song from Come June. They started the intro to one of my favorites of his, “Here Comes The Comeback.” It’s more upbeat than the rest of the album. It reminds me a lot of George Harrison’s music, which I love! The fans were just as excited as I was for that one. Then even more so for the first single that was released for this album, the album’s namesake, “Come June.” “Come June,” is another higher tempo tune with sweet lyrics penned for his wife, Sarah! Fans sang along loudly for that one! 

Mitch and the band exited the stage and the crowd cheered and cheered for an encore! When they all returned back to the stage, Mitch jokingly said, “Now you really are heckling me!”. He followed with words of gratitude and said, “I never thought I’d be here, this is crazy!”. For the encore, they performed a cover of, “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’,” by The Velvet Underground. It was a fun way to end the night as the band rocked out to the song. It was especially fun when Mitch, on guitar, and Sarah, on drums, jammed out together for a portion of the song!

This was such a treat to be able to see Mitch Rowland and co. perform his album Come June live! He and the band are all incredibly talented and showcased those talents so well! Between the supporting acts and the main event, it was a phenomenal night of feel good, peaceful music!

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