7pm doors, music 8pm
Fri, June 3
AT&T Center, One AT&T Center
(800) 745-3000, attcenter.com
“Before I say anything, I need 24 hours to process what I just saw,” Adrián Sosa, drummer for Latin Grammy-winning tango/electrónica collective Bajofondo, said seconds after Le Butcherettes’ show at South by Southwest in March. “This is a very intense, edgy band. And she’s incredible, incredible.”
A writer from the Los Angeles Times would blog later, saying the band was “the best act I saw” at SXSW 2011. Days ago the LA Weekly compared the frontwoman’s voice to that of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O, but added that this one “sets itself apart with a husky rawness that gives her voice a more emotionally authentic feel.”
They were all talking about 22-year-old Teri Gender Bender (born Teresa Suárez in Denver), who moved to Guadalajara when she was 14 and started Le Butcherettes, a female two-piece garage rock band with drummer Auryn Jolene. Their Kiss & Kill EP earned them “Best New Artist” and “Best Punk Record” awards at Mexico’s Indie-O Awards in 2009.
Shortly after that, Gender Bender and Jolene parted ways on bad terms (Jolene claimed she didn’t like “the direction the band was taking,” while Gender Bender accused her former partner of demanding royalties for songs she didn’t write). None of that mattered to Omar Rodríguez López (The Mars Volta), who was hooked after catching them live in 2008 and signed the band to his label. Gender Bender moved to Los Angeles and reformed Le Butcherettes with Gabe Serbian (The Locust, Cattle Decapitation) on drums and Jonathan Hischke (Hella) on bass, although Rodríguez produced and played bass on all tracks of Sin Sin Sin, the full-length debut by Le Butcherettes, released on May 10.
“Omar Rodríguez gave us some advice,” Gender Bender told the Current by phone from Los Angeles. “We should have a bass player all the time, because in concert I often go crazy and I need the bass element to keep the music in check.”
“Going crazy,” in Le Butcherettes’ world, may mean donning a bloody apron onstage, French-kissing a pig head, sweeping the stage floor with a broom (posing as a lowly housewife), or doing a backward flip into the audience when you least expect it. Or all of the above. This is not just body surfing: at SXSW, her backward flip included a full somersault, her head seeming to hit the floor. The crowd was stunned, not knowing whether this was part of the act or if she had been seriously hurt. After a few seconds, she jumped back onstage as if nothing had happened and continued covering limited guitar skills with ferocious strumming.
“Everyone has their own way of playing the guitar, and I have mine,” she said about the fact that she only plays four strings and has her own way of tuning the instrument. The opening riff of “Henry Don’t Got Love,” the first single off Sin Sin Sin, sounds like a six-year-old picking up the guitar for the first time before exploding into an in-your-face garage attack. “The beginning of ‘Henry’ started with my brother, who is a huge cyber nerd and always plays at a site that has a very similar theme song. Unconsciously, I picked that up and used it as a ridiculous intro, and then bam!”
The album is solid, receiving mostly favorable reviews. But when talking about Le Butcherettes it is their aggressive live shows and past scandals that first come to mind. And the most controversial thing Gender Bender ever did was the video of “Don’t Try To Fool Me,” a song by French-Mexican rocker Adanowsky (born Adán, son of Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky). Filmed in Paris, the video starts with Gender Bender and Adanowsky in bed, naked, beating the crap out of each other, before the still-naked couple tumble into the streets amid confused passersby.
“It was a mockery of couples so into their relationship they can’t see that they’re like naked in public, so full of fury and violence,” said Gender Bender, who adheres by the critical feminism of authors like Christina Hoff Sommers and is often targeted by NOW-styled feminists. “‘How can you be a feminist and appear nude in a video?’ some would say. But I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. We had a lot of fun making the video, and in fact it was my idea. The French police were applauding us, and I was thinking, ‘My God … In Mexico I would go to jail, and in the U.S. it would’ve been worse!’ If you’re a woman and an artist there should be no limits. I don’t regret a thing about that video.”
“A lot of people emphasize the scandals, but [she] goes way beyond the nudity and provocations,” said Mexican singer-songwriter/actress Ximena Sariñana in Spanish, seconds after Le Butcherettes’ show at SXSW. “You have to understand: [she’s] still very young, and her provocative side is just one of the many creative avenues she chooses to express herself with. [She’s] a very talented person whose contribution will have staying power well beyond Le Butcherettes and well beyond this part of her life.”
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