The Melvins, Le Butcherettes Warehouse Live October 31, 2014
The legendary band that has influenced many other legendary bands stopped in Houston Thursday on their way to play New Orleans' Voodoo Fest. Now joined by former Butthole Surfers bassist JD Pinkus, lifelong Melvins Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover played with vigor and seemingly renewed energy in support of their latest album, Hold It In.
The trio took the stage and simply jammed for the first 20 minutes or so. Their mellow sludge primed with feedback lulled the crowd into a false sense of safety until the crew changed the pace, suddenly crunching their guitars and battering away the drums. One thing that stood out was seeing how the three-piece worked together so fluidly. They had no set lists, using only looks at each other and then a change in the drumbeat. Buzzo may have been communicating like bees do with their hive -- by using the waddle dance -- as he wore a figure-8 pattern into the stage floor, tracing the same steps over and over before stopping sporadically to put his guitar in fans' mesmerized faces.
Standout moments included Buzzo doing his best slurring televangelist impression on Buttholes cover "Going to Florida," cover song, originally performed by the Butthole Surfers and the dizzying track about getting bunk speed, "The Bride of Crankenstein." An instant Melvins classic, it got the crowd moving more than just their heads.
King Buzzo dressed in a quilted blue muumuu while his frizzled, salt-and-pepper (mostly salt) Afro bounced around the spotlight as he jammed on his golden guitar. (It wouldn't be a Melvins review with out mentioning the locks.) His trademark big hair showed no issues from the Houston humidity; in classic Melvins form, it was actually amplified.
As a first-timer seeing the stoner-rock legends live, I was very happy to see them in the intimacy of Warehouse Live's Studio room. I strongly encourage everyone to experience a show there, where sound is crisp and no matter where you are there is a good view of the talent.
Openers Le Butcherettes made their second trip to town in less than four months, after joining Antemasque at Fitzgerald's in August. The Mexican punk trio's lead singer Terri Gender Bender had all eyes on her, set up center stage and switching between keyboards and guitar while singing into her choice of microphones. Drummer Lia Braswell and bassist Chris Common moved to the side of the stage, either so they could remain at a safe distance from Gender Bender's flailing physical antics because her ego has grown exceedingly large.
Either way, Gender Bender was confusingly beautiful as always, screaming and singing with true passion and strength. She often changed her facial expressions from happy to angry within a matter of milliseconds as her crew ran through about 30 minutes of music from Sin, Sin, Sin and their more recent release Cry Is for the Flies.
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Le Butcherettes were in the middle of crushing "I'm Getting Sick of You" and when Gender Bender suddenly ditched the guitar, slid off the front of the stage and moved through the crowd to the bar. Only you couldn't see her move through the crowd, only the ripple of people that were moving out of her way; King Buzzo was watching the performance from the side and someone had to point out where she had disappeared.
After crouching or crawling all the way through to the back of the studio, Gender Bender climbed onto the bar. Much to the dismay of the Warehouse Live bartender, she shimmied across the entire length of the bar - being careful not to spill any drinks - and then danced for a brief moment.
She hopped down and then low-walked back towards the stage, where she dipped her head between a surprised fan's legs and picked him up on her shoulders. Gender Bender placed him on the stage and then paid him no attention after that. The fan stood onstage with a shocked smile and a beer in his hand for a brief moment before getting off when the trio started playing again. Le Butcherettes have quickly become one of my favorite bands, and this live performance only solidified that notion.
The Crowd: A majority of greying men and a handful of women and a smattering of their children. Oh yeah, Kam Franklin from The Suffers was there as well. I wonder if she was there to give King Buzzo tips on his hair?
Overheard In the Crowd: "Is it wrong that I have a crush on someone named Gender Bender?"
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