Sitting at the bar in Hamden, Conn.’s The Outer Space, I overheard two guys talking about the band that was about to unleash that night. “Do you know these guys playing tonight?” Guy 1 asked? “A little bit. They’re like…Mexican punk, but sort of garage-y?” replied his friend. “Whoa, weird. Sounds cool.”
It took every effort to not bogart their conversation. To tell them that yes, despite sipping on some of the tastiest brews Connecticut has to offer on the bar side of the venue, they should definitely cough up the $15 to catch a glimpse of Le Butcherettes, one of the best rock acts currently in circuit.
Singer-keyboardist-guitarist Teri Gender Bender invaded the stage donned in a solid camouflage-green one-piece, with red, chalky faceprint strewn across her face, just under her eyes. Riko Rodríguez-López (bass, synths) and Alejandra Robles Luna (drums) immediately followed, both adorned in the band’s signature red uniform. The trio quickly broke into “La Uva,” (sans Iggy Pop), and from there, the show took off just like every other Le Butcherettes show: like a rollercoaster shot forth that twists and flips and never slows down until the ride has come to a complete stop. That’s exactly why seeing Gender Bender’s band (and let’s be real – it’s her baby) is so damn thrilling each time.
Though Gender Bender is seemingly finished with the dead pigs’ heads and fake blood, her performance is still physical performance art at its finest. She’s wickedly unbridled on stage, like someone who’s been kept in a cage all day, only to ferociously attack once a guitar’s in her hands. You can feel her passion and the strength of her voice. Rodríguez-López and Robles Luna do their best to keep up, but there’s no stealing the spotlight from Gender Bender, nor would anyone want to. She’s center stage and commanding of the attention, running on the fumes of her fury and convictions.
Set highlights included Sin Sin Sin‘s keys-heavy “The Leibniz Language” (“Bruno was a classic!”), and A Raw Youth‘s “Witchless C Spot,” with its lulling, atmospheric synths and it’s earth-shattering chorus that cracks wide open, forcing everyone to comply and bang their heads. It’s the ultimate slow paced rocker, full of emotion and loud, seething guitar. Hell yes.
Mid-set, during “Dress Off,” Gender Bender shimmied out of her onesie, revealing her blood red outfit she always sports, and joining her bandmates in matching crimson attire. There wasn’t a single downer in the tight 50-minute set that was comprised of tunes from every album. This band has got the physicality and pacing on lock; when they’re on stage, there’s no standing in the back of the room, chatting about whatever. There’s no time for a bathroom break or beer run. They’re locked and loaded, and you’re the target, their’s for the taking.
The band bowed out with “Henry Don’t Got Love,” another cut off the debut record, leaving the crowd fired up and wanting more. With every Connecticut show growing in size, energy and admiration for Gender Bender and her band, the future is shiny and bright for these punk rockers. Hopefully those two dudes got off their bar stools to experience something truly unique: forward thinking, feminist Mexican punk at its finest. If not, it’s their bad.