The Melvins With Le Butcherettes Trees, Dallas Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Teri Gender Bender, the lead singer, guitarist and keyboard player of Le Butcherettes, is the most punk person I can imagine. Now, I know there's a lot of deeply tedious discussion about what is and what is not punk, and even on a music blog no one wants to read this discussion. Someone telling you what is punk is in itself not punk. However, here is my thesis: Whatever your idea of punk is, Teri Gender Bender is exactly that thing.
Ms. Gender Bender does not give a solitary fuck what you or anyone else might think, as was evidenced by her antics Tuesday night opening for the Melvins at Trees. These included masturbating on stage, walking like the girl from the Exorcist, dancing like a person whose limbs were being controlled by someone with an uncontrollable twitch, hitting herself repeatedly in the head with a drumstick, and foraying out into the crowd to throw herself into people four or five times her fragile stature.
TGB is so free and untethered and immensely talented that she should be everyone's hero.We can all learn something by watching someone scarily good enough to write a song like "Bang!" (which, if PJ Harvey had written it, we'd still all be talking about in hushed tones today) hopping around the stage in the style of a crab that's having an aneurysm, a wall of hair covering her face, screaming off into the middle distance where there is absolutely no microphone. Then, the song finishes, and a switch is flipped. All smiles, TGB bows and shouts, "Gracias!"
There is absolutely no way to read her. At one point she just gives a long, long speech in very fast Spanish (Le Butcherettes are from Guadalajara) and ends it by smashing the keyboard with her elbow, which is apparently a cue for the band to start. Sometimes, even her bass player looks mildly terrified of whatever it is she's going to do next. When she came over to him and did the splits, he started backing off a little bit. It's wonderful entertainment. My wife said, "It's like Tori Amos, but Tori Amos wants to cut me."
TGB is a firecracker that is constantly exploding, and Le Butcherettes' songs veer between beautiful melody, horrific dissonance, and just a drumbeat while TGB lays on the floor of the moshpit, surrounded by the crowd, shouting "TAKE MY FUCKING DRESS OFF!" The world would be a far better place with more Teri Gender Benders.
If you don't ever get to see Le Butcherettes, and you like it when music is enthralling, you have let yourself down. It should be everything to everyone.
Le Butcherettes would be a fine headline band, but instead we got the Melvins. Now, you are unlikely to get an unbiased review from this guy, who thinks that the phrase "metal legend" was invented for the man who lives underneath the grey frizz that King Buzzo calls his hair. Nevertheless, this was a great show even taking into account their lofty perch as "band that influenced all your favorite bands."
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The Melvins live are a sonic battering, a broad and tall wall of noise, whose sound doesn't so much fill a room as physically push the room outwards. You might think, given that every single dial on all of their amplifiers is clearly set to "everything" that they take themselves seriously. Then they'll bust out a cover of the Butthole Surfers' "Going To Florida," a song which is less a song and more a rant about gators and Jews set to a goofy bassline. Also, the lead singer is wearing a muumuu with sequins sown into it. Again, impossible to read.
Buzzo was far more into it than I'd seen before, bouncing across the stage as he dealt out the solos that perch on top of new album crunchers like "Sesame Street Meat" and "Bride of Crankenstein," which might be the best song the Melvins have released in about 10 years. A possible explanation for the engagement is the resetting of the band -- gone are the double drummers, and we're back to the old school Melvins three piece, on top of a new album that's easily the best since 2006's A Senile Animal. Maybe after going through a few years of double-drummers and touring classic albums for their anniversary, this album has hit refresh on the Melvins.
Back catalog classics like "The Bit" and "Night Goat" sent the crowd into an absolute frenzy, and the band rattled through them with the sheer aggression of a band 30 years their junior. Closing with a wilfully obscure cover of Pop-O-Pies' "Fascists Eat Donuts," bassist Jeff Pinkus led the crowd in a shouted chorus of "MAKE THESE DONUTS WITH EXTRA GREASE/THIS BATCH IS FOR THE CHIEF OF POLICE" over and over again while raising his middle fingers to the front row. I want to be Jeff Pinkus when I grow up.
Nothing about last night at Trees was half-hearted or smacked of bands in the midst of a long tour just playing another show. It was, start to finish, from the opening Le Butcherettes keyboard riff to the closing distorted shouting of Dale Crover, an absolute blast.