Los Angeles Times // Coachella 2012: “Le Butcherettes come to festival, conquer it”
All Teri “Gender Bender” Suarez had to do was walk onstage. Five steps to her keyboard and one uncomfortable-looking chicken-squat later, and she already looked as if she were in need of an exorcism. Once she struck her instrument and began sputtering in time to the beat in a crouched position, the gentleman standing next to me leaned over and said, “I’m scared already.”
This, as anyone who has seen Le Butcherettes before can attest, is when the fun begins.
The local group came to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in the midst of recording its new album, and were augmented here by mentor/producer and frequent collaborator Omar Rodriguez Lopez. The member of At the Drive-In was the one and only calm presence on stage, his forceful punk-rock bass guiding Suarez and drummer Lia Braswell away from completely losing it.
When Suarez plays her keyboard, she bends down between strikes as if she’s in danger of falling off the stage and the instrument is her only lifeline. When she slaps at her guitar strings, the noise coming out of the speakers sounds as if it’s coated in daggers. Vocally, she shouts out quotes from novels, serenades in Spanish, occasionally pretends to be Russian and lashes out at American political leaders. When not doing any of the above, she may sing, but she approaches the microphone with the all-encompassing bravado of a Joe Strummer.
She punctuated “Tonight” with less-than-graceful ballet kicks, and squared off with Braswell on “Dress Off.” Lopez was wise to leave the stage, as the facial expressions of Suarez and Braswell would lead one to believe that the two were locked in a duel to the death. Yet when Suarez howls to rip off her clothes, it’s a statement of reclamation, a dare to anyone — male or female — who would attempt to size her up.
“Help me,” Suarez screamed, as she climbed the lighting rig on the side of the stage. “Help me put me back together,” she clarified, and then locked her legs around the pole and leaned over. It was unclear if anyone at Coachella was up for the challenge, but Suarez seems used to it. She launched into “Henry Don’t Got Love,” the closest thing in Le Butcherettes’ catalog to a fist-raising punk-rock anthem. “You’re afraid to even know me,” she sang, as if acutely aware she stood alone, a force unlike any other on stage at Coachella this weekend. - Todd Martens