SARGENT HOUSE

Rock NYC: Le Butcherettes at the Palladium on 12/1/11 Reviewed

Opening for Iggy and the Stooges must be damn difficult and intimidating, but I am not sure anything can intimidate Teri Gender Bender, frontwoman of the strangely-named band, Le Butcherettes.

But like Iggy, Teri Gender Bender (born Teri Suarez) is much more than a front woman, she is the center of attention, she is Le Butcherettes alone, flying on stage, even doing one of the most memorable stage dives I have ever seen, elegantly plunging as if she was in front of a swimming pool, than suddenly reappearing and climbing back on stage before we were aware of it. She was so volatile it was hard to follow her antics, and after a few songs, I came to the conclusion she must also be a little crazy.

With her cute doll-dress, black tights and blood-covered housewife apron, she seemed to make some big feminist statement, i.e. the gender bender name, and the fake blood to denounce violence against woman. But how many bands have such a strong female presence going insane onstage? She once butchered her bangs with a pair of scissors on stage, even peed in front of the audience at her recent show at the Troubadour, and it was not the first time, as she said that ‘Pee doesn’t have to be bad. It can be graceful’.

On Thursday night, she did not urinate on the stage of the Palladium, but she played all along with unexpected weirdness. Switching back and forth between synth and guitar, she screamed her lyrics, sometimes even taking a soprano voice for just a few seconds, rolling the rs like a Russian girl singing a punk polka, or yelling some angry tirades in Spanish between the songs (the band is originally from Mexico city and recently relocated in Los Angeles).

Playing a sort of garage punk, she was raw, she was enraged, she was a storm on stage screaming ‘I’m getting sick of you’, a hard explosive number from their recently released album ‘Sin Sin Sin. The music was violent and rocking hard, thanks to a blond girl (a guy who was filming behind me said she was his daughter) producing hard and fast pounding drumbeats, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez ofthe Mars Voltawho was filling in on bass.

Teri was twisting her body in every direction, even doing a few half-failed handstands on stage, and dancing with the top of a male mannequin, never out of theatrical moves from her original punk cabaret.

So, is she crazy? May be but I actually love crazy, as Teri Gender Bender seemed to be the incarnation of some female cyclone with an expansive range of vocals, physically expressing her music with the boldest moves, and you simply had no other choice than to ride her wild wave. 

It may be hard to impress Iggy Pop’s fans but, on Thursday night, I think she just did that.

Written by Iman Lababedi for Rock NYC