July 27, 2015 Melvins Make Waves at Crescent Ballroom Phoenix, AZ 7-21-15 w/ Le Butcherettes
Few bands have had as much impact on the music scene as the Melvins. In fact, Nirvana, Tool, and Mastadon are just a few of those that have claimed influence from the Washington based band. Formed by high school buddies Buzz Osborne (guitar/vocals), Matt Lukin (bass), and Mike Dillard (drums) back in 1983, they quickly developed a style of music that was slow, gritty, and heavy. Though there have been lineup changes over time, the band has demonstrated a staying power incredibly rare in the world of music where many acts are hear today and gone tomorrow. Now more than thirty years after their formation, the Melvins continue to play shows all over the world and create music, including their most recent offering from 2014 entitled Hold It In.
Sprucing up the Summer concert season, the Melvins have been on the road headlining their Hold It In tour with support from Le Butcherettes. After having a packed schedule, playing nearly every night in a different city, the tour stopped in Phoenix to perform at the Crescent Ballroom on Tuesday July 21st. With concert goers buzzing, minutes before the show even began, the venue was so packed that everyone was practically standing on top of one another as they waited in anticipation.
Setting the tone for the night was the aforementioned Le Butcherettes, a Garage Punk band from Guadalajara, Mexico. Originally formed back in 2007 by Vocalist/Guitarist Teresa Suárez (known as Teri Gender Bender) and Drummer Auryn Jolene, the band immediately began to stand out with their unique style and sound. While Jolene has since left the band, Le Butcherettes continue to go strong, led by Gender Bender, Chris Common (drums), and Jamie Aaron Aux (bass). Still a relatively young band, 2015 has proven to be a busy year, and in addition to touring, they are getting ready to release their third album this Fall titled A Raw Youth.
Without any pomp or circumstance, the trio, clad in red outfits, took the stage. From the moment they hit the first note of their song “Burn The Scab,” the band captivated the audience. Highlighted by Gender Bender’s powerful, eccentric presence, she played the guitar and keyboard with aggression, as well as passion. In addition, she sang with an incredible amount of emotion. Not the type of musician who keeps her distance from the audience, her movements were like that of a modern dancer as sometimes she would stand with her toes curled underneath her feet and dance like a ballerina. Meanwhile, Common and Aux complemented the set with their flawless musicianship, and, their personable, but more subtle stage presences worked well with Gender Bender’s.
Every song the band played appeared to be equally popular with the crowd, and they managed to maintain a fast pace, taking no time to talk in between songs. The continuity from one song into the next seemed to put the crowd into an awe-inspired trance as they went into cuts like “Demon Stuck in Your Eye,” “They Fuck You Over,” and “Shave the Pride.” Unfortunately, the band did not have a chance to finish their set, due to an obscene man in the crowd who shouted, “Show me your tits!” Gender Bender froze for a moment, and her face darkened with rage. Lifting her guitar above her head, she slammed it into her keyboard, and then ran off the stage to seek out the offender. She was unsuccessful finding the guy, and after a several minutes of confusion, Gender Bender returned to the stage.
By this time Common and Aux were already removing the equipment off the stage, but Gender Bender sat behind the drums and sang her final message: If they want to see her tits, they are going to hear about her pain. Gender Bender made it perfectly clear that she would never accept that kind of behavior from anyone, and rightfully so. Overall, Le Butcherettes’ show was like a theatrical performance. Gender Bender fronts this band in a bold way with beauty and confidence that is reminiscent of the great Grace Slick. Do not miss them and see exactly how compelling they are.
Following a set change, it was time for the Melvins to take the stage. The trio walked out nonchalant, as though instead of performing in front of a packed venue, they were playing for themselves. The colorful Buzz Osborne (also known as King Buzzo) appeared like a combination of a mad scientist and a wizard. Wearing a long black robe adorned with embroidered eyes, his white curly hair was loose and framed his face with a silver halo, making for a eye-dazzling attention grabber. Joining him was long-time Melvin Dale Crover on drums, and former Butthole Surfers bassist Jeff Pinkus. Though the band is known for their sludgy sound and slower tempos, their performance felt very much alive and energetic as they played songs like 1993’s “Hag Me,” “The Water Glass,” and “Sesame Street Meat.” With guitar and bass that had a nice crunchy sound, Crover’s drumming was aggressive along with perfectly accentuated sludgy, psychedelic riffs.
Capturing the crowds immediate attention after only a few songs, a mosh pit formed and, because the room was so packed, everyone was slightly swaying to the heavy grooves. The band swiftly moved through the set and the only time they actually stopped to talk to the audience was just before they went into their Butthole Surfers’ cover “Moving to Florida.” One fan even felt the need to climb onto the stage for a chance to dive into the audience. Buzzo stared at the intruder, unimpressed, and Pinkus yelled a couple of profanities until the guy finally was done with his shenanigans and jumped off the stage. Fortunately, that was the last time any fans tried to irritate the performers, and the night went on without any more incidences as they went on with newer tracks like 2014’s “Bride of Crankenstein,” 2012’s “A Growing Disgust,” and older favorites like “Your Blessened.” Ending the night with “Stick ‘em up Bitch” and Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl,” Gender Bender somersaulted onto the stage to sing the last two songs with the Melvins as the audience applauded her return to the stage. Though it was hard to tell whether she recovered from the incident, her performance was electric and the collaboration with the Melvins was a fitting climax to an exciting evening.
The Melvins are not a typical Rock band. They do not try to be Rock stars. Their stage set was simple, without props or state of the art lighting, and they presented themselves as they are. Yet, their gritty sound and more reserved stage presence only added to their mystique. With nothing to prove, they just came out and played their brand of music. They create music their way, and that incredible talent and confidence is part of what makes their live shows so unforgettable. The Melvins and Le Butcherettes will be taking a brief break, but they will be on the road again starting August 26th. Be sure to get out there and see them at some point because a Melvins concert is not just any performance, it is an experience.