Antemasque, Le Butcherettes Fitzgerald's August 4th, 2014
It's amazing how quickly things can change for the better. Consider the relationship between Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala. These are two guys who were musically attached at the hip for something like 17 years who suddenly found themselves not even on speaking terms last year.
Yet, here they are a little over a year later with a new band and new songs, looking like they're having the time of their life onstage.
Yes, yes, everyone knows about At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta and all the classic music they've put out, but Monday night wasn't about the past or the future. It was about Antemasque and the present.
The present is pretty freaking rocking.
This show did not have an ounce of fat. Le Butcherettes took the stage at 8 p.m. and were done by 8:45. Antemasque took the stage at 9 and were done by 10. In-Concert-Out, if you will. There were no fancy light rigs, not even a stage banner with a name. A very straightforward night that let the music do the talking.
It can be hard to wrap your head around Le Butcherettes. Teri Gender Bender has a charisma unlike anyone else in music. She has the ability to go from looking incredibly happy to scarily intense so fast you feel like your brain is lagging. Her stage movements are highly theatrical, but in a way that doesn't feel rehearsed. She moves like someone possessed by the music rather than by someone creating it.
Drummer Lia Braswell is a monster behind the kit, somehow making things look chaotic while being rock-solid with the beat. Le Butcherettes have taken what was already a strong act and made it better over the past few years. It's rare to see a band so completely locked in while at the same time looking like things could collapse at any moment if the music moves them in that direction. The crowd may have been perplexed at first, but by the time they got around to playing "The Leibniz Language," everyone seemed to be on board.
They remain one of the best live bands of the modern era, which meant that Antemasque were not making it easy on themselves.
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And they rose to the occasion. From the moment they kicked in to "Hanging in the Lurch" it was obvious that while Antemasque weren't on stage to mess around.
If all you know of Omar is the talented but quiet guy off to the side on all those ATDI reunion shows, that dude has been replaced by a beast wearing a guitar. Something about these news songs has lit a fire under him, and watching him shred was a sight to see. His work on "Dominoes Fall" was incredible, with its big Guitar Hero worthy solo being the standout moment of the show.
Cedric held up his end of the bargain, sounding pretty solid for a guy who spent the better part of his younger years screaming his lungs out. He still knows how to command an audience, still has those funky dance moves and still knows when to stop and let the crowd sing their hearts out.
And sing they did. At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta may be the acts that got people to give the Antemasque record an initial spin, but this was an audience made up of people who really connected with the material and were ready to hear these songs live. The sing-alongs on "Ride Like the Devil's Son" and the show-closing "People Forget" were massive, the type of reaction you expect for a band that's been touring for years, not one who were literally playing their third show.
Which of course leads to the question of what's next for the group. Was this a one-off album? The first of many? Will there be more tours? What does this mean for Omar's other projects?
Stop. Just stop.
It's human nature to speculate, just like it's human nature to dwell on the past. But it's like Cedric inferred when he asked everyone to experience a song without holding up their phones: experience the moment as it happens. Make a memory.
And learn the lyrics so you can sing as loud as you can. You don't want to miss out.
Personal Bias: This was my fourth time seeing Le Butcherettes. This was my first time seeing Omar and Cedric at the front of their own band.
The Crowd: Rowdy, but in a fun way. Lot of dudes who like they may post on Something Awful or Reddit. I say that with affection; I too have stairs in my house.
Overheard In the Crowd: "There are no words!" in response to "What did you think of the show?" Way to set the bar high for me.
Random Notebook Dump: Finally got to see a show sitting in the Fitz balcony. +1 to my completed Houston Bucket List items.
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