The Melvins and Le Butcherettes Make Noise at Paradise Rock Club

Paul Sperry-Fromm ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Contributor


At this point in their musical careers, the Melvins have nothing to prove. Resident sludge-lords of the Pacific Northwest, guitarist Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover, have had their fingerprints all over the realm of heavy music for decades. Last year’s Hold it In was their 21st (!) studio album since they debuted with Gluey Porch Treatments back in 1987. Representing the crustier side of the then-burgeoning grunge scene, the Melvins concocted their signature mix of doom metal, thrash, punk, and classic hard rock to create a heady, soulful, and earth shatteringly heavy sound that’s never truly been equaled since. Buzzo and Crover have been the sole constant members since 1984, with a revolving door of bassists, added guitarists, and even second drummers.

The Melvins have toured constantly since their inception and have built up a legendary live reputation. While their roles as modern metal innovators might suit them to share bills with  heavier acts such as Eyehategod, High on Fire or any of their countless sludge disciples, the Melvins have historically shunned this approach and toured with acts that share their unique, weirdo approach to the stage. This summer’s accompanying act, Le Butcherettes, certainly fit the bill in that respect.

My knowledge of Le Butcherettes was fairly limited coming into the show. My brief internet hunts taught me that frontwoman Teri Suarez, AKA Teri Gender Bender, formed the group back in 2007 when she was only 17. As the group came out on stage, all three fully clad in red, Teri launched into an incredibly energetic set as she rotated between guitar and keys. She strutted, crawled, danced, and sprinted as she belted out her melodies over relatively simple garage-rock instrumentals.

The songwriting was remarkably nuanced for a genre often plagued by repetition and self-indulgence, though having a frontwoman as dynamic as Teri can hide some shortcomings for the audience. The rhythm section was locked in, providing a sturdy foundation for their manic frontwoman. Overall, it was a remarkably strong set from a band that didn’t share much sonically with the Melvins. It was clear that Teri Gender Bender was a special frontwoman, one who could command attention from each member of an audience consisting mostly of middle aged metalheads and younger punks.

Before the Melvins took the stage, the audience was treated to a harsh noise performance from a masked figure behind an effects board. The crowd seemed a bit stunned though still in giddy anticipation. The sonic assault lasted for about ten minutes before Buzzo, Crover, and bassist Jeff Pinkus took the stage. Somehow, Buzzo’s guitar managed to be louder than the white noise that preceded his arrival. Osborne launched into the crushing, droning riff of “Hag Me,” one of the most commonly played tracks from their signature Houdini record.

Thus began an hour and a half long set that was basically non-stop. The Melvins blazed through decades worth of material, from the driving thrash of “Sweet Willy Rollbar” to the devastatingly heavy “The Bit.” You’d think that almost three decades worth of recorded material would be enough to work with, but the group included numerous covers, playing songs by the Wipers, the James Gang, and Pinkus’ own Butthole Surfers.

To say the Melvins were tight is an incredible understatement, as I’m not sure if any members of the group ever even bothered to make eye contact throughout a dozen or so complex numbers. Buzzo’s enormous presence at the mic, augmented by his signature half-ro and black robe, was perfectly supplemented by Crover’s virtuosic assault of the drums and Pinkus’ pounding low-end. These guys are pros, an ideal example of where unquestionable talent, unwavering commitment, and decades on the road can get a band.

Though it’s hard to pick a low point from an incredibly consistent set, the unquestionable high point was the penultimate “Night Goat.” As Pinkus’ bassline emerged out of a mess of feedback, the entire place seemed to erupt. I’ve never seen a crowd react so strongly to one song and given it’s brutally simple riff and massive vocals from Buzzo, it’s easy to see why. For the finale, Teri Gender Bender sprinted onto the stage to join in a cover of defunct California punk group Pop-O-Pies’ “Fascists Eat Donuts.” To see her energy combined with the Melvins prolific confidence was riveting, as they ripped through the cover in what was basically a massive dance party.

After the Melvins left the stage, the crowd begged for an encore. Instead, we were greeted by the same masked noise-maestro who opened the set. He carried out yet another abrasive performance which we hoped, to no avail, would precede an encore. However, I certainly left satisfied, completely dazed and astounded by the masterful performance I got to witness from one of the most innovative and professional bands of the last few decades. For the Melvins to provide this on a nightly basis for so long is something any heavy music fan should be truly grateful for.

Check out more dates for the Melvins and Le Butcherettes here.

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