Teri Gender Bender is over that whole “blood thing.”
“I feel like I already proved a point to myself. I did it too long,” she told us of her faux-gory stage performances.
That's not to say the tour-de-force behind punk outfit Le Butcherettes is hanging up her trademark blood-spattered apron. It just explains why, mid-song at last night's Bootleg Theater gig, she took out a pair of scissors and began furiously hacking away at her bangs in time with the drum beat.
Maybe new stage antics and a new haircut are just the right way to celebrate their new album, Sin Sin Sin. Released Tuesday, Sin Sin Sin is only the first LP from the band since they formed in Guadalajara in 2007. Despite this, founding member Gender Bender's bold lyrics and firecracker performances have earned them a devoted following, as evidenced by the night's solid turnout.
The show got started before Gender Bender (née Teresa Suaréz) and bandmates Gabe Serbian (of The Locust) and Jonathan Hischke picked up their instruments. Sporting a man's overcoat, fedora and do-rag, Gender Bender performed a sort of domestic ritual onstage, dusting the microphone, crumbling stale bread on the floor and then sweeping it up.
But within the first few songs, Gender Bender stripped her masculine garb down to a mini-dress and blood-soaked apron, finally daring the audience, “You take my fucking dress off!'
Like “Dress Off,” Gender Bender's songs are at once seductive and accusatory, personal and political; raw and to-the-point, they're as easily directed toward society as they are to a lover. Alternating between keyboard and guitar, she hurled herself around the stage and off of it while deep-throating the mic, clawing at her face and straddling members of the audience who seemed at once delighted and afraid. During “The Leibniz Language,” Gender Bender switched between seductively crooning to the crowd and haphazardly cutting herself riot grrrl bangs and howling, “Help me, put me back together!”
That howl draws inevitable comparisons to Karen O, and maybe even a female Jack White. But it sets itself apart with a husky rawness that gives her voice a more emotionally authentic feel. It's as if no producer or vocal coach ever touched it–and none should. So when Serbian and Hischke stopped playing for a few moments of a capella crooning, lines like “You tell me you love me/And now you wanna kill me” were the sonic equivalent of Gender Bender grabbing you by the shirt collar.
But for all her rage and ferocity, there was no forgetting it was a night of celebration; throughout the set, her perpetually contorted and scowling face couldn't help but reveal an expression of joy.
“This morning I had a very good cry. I never expected this much support and I want to thank you,” she said, shortly before hurling herself into the crowd for a victory lap around the room.
After the show, concertgoers mingled with what's best described as a post-exorcism version of Gender Bender.
Bashful and–dare we say?–nervous, she doled out hugs and photo ops as fans serenaded her with the likes of “Do you have any idea how fucking awesome you are?!” Blushing, she literally got on her hands and knees to sign copies of the show's commemorative poster.
“I think when I find other ways of expressing myself onstage, even if it means cutting my hair or even just singing into the microphone, it really gets the thing out that I have inside,” she told us.
Whatever works, Gender Bender. Just don't you dare stop.