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ANTEMASQUE sell out GAMH with Le Butcherettes

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Photos by Pedro Paredes // Written by Scotland Miller //

ANTEMASQUE with Le Butcherettes //
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco
August 12th, 2014 //

The harsh aftermath that are the days following Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival was soothed by a special sold-out Tuesday night at the Great American Music Hall. Two bands that are sure to draw crowds wherever they go, ANTEMASQUE and Le Butcherettes, delivered a power-packed night of music complete with dropped jaws and torn vocal chords.

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On support of their new album entitled Cry Is for the Flies, Le Butcherettes is fronted by vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Teri Gender Bender and drummer Lia Braswel, with production support from Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. They are billed as a garage-punk band from Mexico and rely heavily on the simplistic formula that is “screw you, I’m gonna play what I want.”

This tactic of sonic shock rock is accompanied by Gender Bender’s politically-charged lyrics and her onstage antics, which included a bloodied kitchen apron, a broomstick crucifixion, a deep-throat of the microphone and a bit of crotch-first crowd surfing. To put it lightly, this girl is an eye-catcher on stage and will certainly make you a fan after a live performance. She even hit the bass player in the face with her shoe from across the stage! The energy that emanates from this group is shocking and undoubtedly best appreciated live.

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A new project called ANTEMASQUE emerged earlier this year from longtime friends and familiar duo Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, formerly of The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In. They are also joined by fellow TMV drummer David Elitch, as well as efforts from the Red Hot Chili Peppers legend Flea. Originally intended to release only a few singles in April of this year (“4AM”, “Hangin’ in the Lurch” and “People Forget”), the project evolved into the digital release of a 10-track self-titled album (read our review here) released in July with a subsequent quick two-week tour, finishing up with two shows in Los Angeles. They put a progressive spin on blues rock and punk music in a way that feels very new, which admittedly is a holy grail in the music industry. Fans of The Mars Volta shouldn’t be disappointed with this new material, but instead should recognize the new direction of these talented musicians.

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At the exact moment of conclusion of Le Butcherettes’ opening set, the crowd immediately elbowed their way closer to the tiny stage at The Great American. A giant mass of cookie-cutter faces with stretched earlobes, flannel over shirts, IPA T-shirts, corduroy jackets, fedoras and beards all pushed forward to get a closer look at their heroes. It’s amazing the ferocity that such artists can evoke in their fans. It was refreshing to see. Not only was the reception of this performance accepted with nothing but screams of elation, but every single lyric for every song was also spouted by the vast majority of the audience. This might not be much of a notable occurrence, if it weren’t for the fact that most of this music has only been available to the public for a matter of about five or six weeks.

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The setlist consisted of about an hour of material not quite encompassing the entirety of their self-titled release. The energy level achieved by the opening act never let up. Some of the highlighted performances came during a vibrantly charged rendition of “Hangin’ in the Lurch,” and a ripping guitar solo and jam session during “Providence.” There were a few moments of story time where Cedric explained how his grandmother was responsible for his being allowed to sing as a kid, and a quick comment about how ANTEMASQUE as a band were able to defy the music reviewers and make some music that was “all proggy prog prog” and didn’t have “a bunch of crazy time changes,” but these moments were offset by the pure magic that this pairing of musicians produced.

The sounds of ANTEMASQUE are different enough from that of their previous works, which sets this project apart from being just another time waster. Music fans will surely enjoy this act if they are ever lucky enough to see it in person.

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