Le Butcherettes rock the Moth Club
On any average weekday night, you can practically guarantee that there is something not so average happening in a nook or a cranny on the London plane. Guadalajara’s Le Butcherettes’ performance at the Moth Club on a regular Tuesday evening certainly falls into the not-so-average way to spend a school night category.
Having formed in 2007, the foursome aren’t newbies when it comes to making music – especially an angry punk rock number. Lead by Teri Gender Bender, and made up of Alejandra Robles Luna [drums], Rikardo Rodriguez-Lopez [guitars] and Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez [bass], Le Butcherettes are known for their frantic and visceral tracks that are raw in content and furious in intent. Tackling the hard subjects of taboo, oppression, mental illness and abuse their stunning openness sees the band convert their vulnerabilities and past traumas into unrefined power. With every album, of which there is now five, Le Butcherettes are more refined with their sound.
Through their tracks, Teri Gender Bender manifests the repressions of a woman who has experienced oppression at the hands of the patriarchy, been face to face with moral and emotional corruption and battled with the breakdown of a family. She’s as tough as it gets and refuses to be silenced by her experiences; instead, she embraces and rejects ‘The Other’ (everything outside of corporeal reality that we repress) in equal measure the same way many dualities exist in the human condition. In doing so she defies “house-rules” in performance and creativity, bringing forth the abject, the horrors we refuse to acknowledge, by sitting in between this idea of the self and the other. A simpler explanation would be to describe the times she poured blood over herself during performances, or cut her fringe while on stage, or the hanging upside down on rafters. In short, they shove in your face all that you should see but don’t want to look at and do it in style.
While every one of their albums has been an expression of all the above, their newest release bi/MENTAL is something of a marvel. Focusing once more on the superlatives in our lives, in this album they push those boundaries to their breaking point making it far more primitive and emotionally bare than their sound has ever been before. Throughout the album, the band explore new textures and harmonies that see them maintaining their anarcho-punk, garage band grit while adding in almost rock anthemic sound in their new-found roar-ness. On top of this, they’ve amalgamated softer tones giving the listener room to breath in between riotous riffs as well as the opportunity for Gender Bender to find gentle releases in between the furious ones. And if that doesn’t entice you enough, the band teamed up with an array of artists such as Jerry Harrison, Jello Biafra and Alice Bag who have all had their feel of the album.
In honour of this release, Le Butcherettes have been on tour for what must feel like forever. This included a one-night stint at the spangly Moth Club in the heart of Hackney Central – a performance that not many would forget any time soon.
Supported by Big Joanie, the night kicked off in all the right ways. Taking inspo from the 90s riot grrrl aesthetics as well as sister acts like The Ronettes, this trio makes the DIY music with soul. Formed in 2013 at a black feminist consciousness-raising meeting, the trio has since made tracks that fearlessly fight the good fight for feminism as well as functioning as space could explore their identity and innate creativity as black women. Their performance embodies this notion and sees all three members, Stephanie Phillips, Chardine Taylor-Stone and Estella Adeyeri, thrive on the stage with even the simplest set-up. Performing tracks such as ‘Used to Be Friends’, ‘How Could You Love Me’ and ‘Down Down’ from their debut album Sistahs they showed off their unique mix of classic punk home-made-ness, with 90s surf rock tenor and a heavy dose of sisterhood thrown in there. It’s as if their the love child bore by avant-funk ESG and the ultimate DIY girl -band The Slits who was bought up in the 90s and fed the musical likes of Sleater Kinney and Bikini Kill. They are fun and inviting with their music who flourish when they play. Overall, they evoke powerful women while expressing themselves as such and offer you the chance to get down to it.
Following swiftly on, after watching members of Le Butcherettes float around the venue, they all squeezed on the golden draped Moth Club stage. Rocking a Chichimeccan warrior headdress and face paint in honour of her grandmother, Gender Bender and co. look ready to take on the world – or at least a room full of anticipating spectators. However, it was long before they kicked off their setlist full of tracks from the newest album with splashes of some classic numbers. Some notable moments saw them play ‘Spider/WAVES’ a delectable number that encapsulates their whole image combining heavy guitars with eerie keyboards and showing of Gender Bender’s vocal range (reaching uncannily high notes I might add), ‘give/UP’ was another number that unequivocally rambunctious and candid, and the practically celestial rendition of ‘in/THE END’ which saw flashes of teary eyes in amongst the crowd. Aside from the new ones they also chucked in ‘The Leibniz Language’ from Sin Sin Sin which got everybody moving.
From setting to stage presence, the gig was everything you’d want and more from Le Butcherettes – considering their presence in the UK has been longing for ages. One thing, however, that, unfortunately, stood out at the event was the lack of crowd etiquette from some of the audience which saw women struggling to get to the front at a feminist gig. That’s not to say that men shouldn’t be at the front of a feminist gig – far from it – but what’s wrong with respecting Kathleen Hanna’s “girls to the front” mantra at a riot grrrl gig at the same time. Nonetheless, the band no doubt touched the heart of everybody who filled the room especially with the entrance into the crowd from Gender Bender that saw her sharing sweat with adoring eyed fans.
With a carefree and passionate spirit in every chord they played, Le Butcherettes create a space both live and recorded that allows you to be free all that’s shit in your past and present and invites to recreate yourself for a stronger future.
Listen to bi/MENTAL here:
Feast your eyes on Le Butcherettes here:
Treat your ears to Big Joanie here:
Words by Aimee Williams-Maynard