Punk doesn’t have to concede to its stereotype. As with most walks of life, it’s the attitude that counts. Teri Gender Bender, lead vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist for Le Butcherettes, is the epitome of what a leader of a punk movement should be, and that ferocity was on high display last week at Cafe Nine in New Haven.
Having come up in the Mexican underground, Gender Bender’s on-stage antics formerly included artificial blood and real pig heads. With thematic tunes about poverty, sexism and racial injustice, Le Butcherettes’ tight trio set out to incite, and that energy oozed throughout the venue; pigs be damned, the snarling frontwoman had absolutely no need for props this time around.
The band’s garage rock base has sprinkles of punk garnish, with album appearances by Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins lending credence to their efforts. But that garage-punk sound is distorted even further by demented carnival keyboards that sound like something out of Killer Klowns from Outer Space. It’s original and entirely frenetic.
Gender Bender brings that boisterous rock amalgamation to the stage and amplifies it even further. Donning a red uniform – dress, tights, and heels, to match, Gender Bender was savage as she thrashed, growled and sang her soul out, banging on the keys and alternating back to her axe. She’d squat with her guitar, while rabidly convulsing and staring the crowd down with her demonic, rage-filled eyes. Her shenanigans on stage aren’t simply for the taking, they are part of a well-established alter ego.
Supported by drummer Chris Common and bassist Riko Rodríguez-López, who kept up with her unpredictable antics like the pros they are, the band rifled through tracks from all three albums, opening with Sin Sin Sin’s “The Leibniz Language” and ending with “La Uva,” the Raw Youth track that Iggy supports on record. (My personal set favorites: the from-the-gut crescendo of “Your Weakness Gives Me Life” and the riotous upheaval of “Bang”). Once the crowd was nice and riled up, the band broke out a cover of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” – an off-genre tune that was perfectly timed and unanticipated. The crowd devoured it whole.
Mid-performance, you certainly wouldn’t want to fuck with Gender Bender or find yourself even slightly in her line of fire. The second she jumped off stage, she was all smiles, hugging everyone in her path on the way to the merch table, where she graciously (and deservedly) accepted the crowd’s acclaim while signing records and taking photos with everyone who wanted to chat. The theatrics were over, but it was a performance that will definitely be remembered.
1. The Leibniz Language
2. They Fuck You Over
3. Sold Less Than Gold
4. Shave the Pride
5. The Devil Lived
6. Burn the Scab
7. Your Weakness Gives Me Life
8. Boulders Love Over Layers of Rock
9. I’m Getting Sick of You
10. Witchless C Spot
11. Stab My Back
13. We No Owe
14. Demon Stuck in Your Eye
15. Wrecking Ball (Miley Cyrus Cover)
16. Henry Don’t Got Love
17. La Uva