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Antemasque, Le Butcherettes Ignite Metro

By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 18, 2014 8:30PM

Antemasque made their Chicago premiere on the Metro stage Sunday night and took the eager crowd for a wild ride.

Antemasque is the latest brainchild of At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta veterans Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. It's not as prog as The Mars Volta and not as heavily influenced by Fugazi than At The Drive-In. It's a more direct rock act that has the goods, especially when it comes to putting a live show together.

Some technical difficulties marred the performance. Bixler-Zavalas had trouble with his in-ear monitor, while verbal exchanges between him and a member of the band's crew proved to be distracting. They messed with thing three times before the frontman finally decided to ditch it and go on with the show. We're sure the monitor helps Bixler-Zavalas put on his best performance, but we will question the necessity of using it on a stage as small as Metro's. (You might have to concentrate a little harder to hear exactly what you want, but it can be done.)

Lacking the monitor didn't seem to hinder Bixler-Zavalas' performance. He still hit all his notes. He still dazzled with his slick dance moves borrowed from the Hardest Working Man in Show Business. He still nailed his groovy microphone juggling act. And the crowd ate it up; he really didn't miss that monitor.

The band stuck with material from their debut album, which was officially released last week (a digital version was posted for a limited time this summer). So, they played just nine songs in the span of about 80 minutes. Which means they had to include at least one monster jam and played "Providence" for a good 20 minutes. It's the one tune on the album that has a thick groove and the band took advantage of it to fill out the set. The extended song had a lot of really cool moments and swelling crescendos. Specifically it allowed Rodriguez-Lopez to really flex his chops and show what smooth guitar player he can be. Of course, when you jam on a song for that long, it can meander into some sleepy territory, and there were moments in the jam when you couldn't wait for them to move along. It was an effective jam, but it made this writer wonder why they wouldn't throw in a Grand Funk Railroad cover or something into the set instead.

"Providence" also gave drummer Dave Elitch a nice showcase for his talents. This man is a beast as he pounded away like he was trying to fill Madison Square Garden with noise. A few times during "Providence" it seemed like he took the beat right to the edge, just about to lose it, but he never lost control and kept the train chugging a long.

It was a vast difference to his counterpart in the opening act. Le Butcherettes' Lia Braswell put on an absolute clinic behind her trap kit. She is obviously well-schooled in her craft and her technique is spot on. She's got a rock-steady kick drum foot and flies across her four-piece kit with a wicked groove and impeccable taste, all without hitting the skins that hard. She threw in cool Latin beats under punk rock riffs, which made for an unusual feel. For all you young drummers reading this post searching for someone to emulate, go out of your way to watch Braswell play.

She played a nice complement to frontwoman Teri Gender Bender (aka Teresa Suárez), from whom it was difficult to tear your eyes away. She commanded the stage with her presence, as she stomped from one end to the other, fists pumping and shouting. At the end of the set, she smashed her poor keyboard and tossed it into the crowd. Keith Emerson does it better, but she gave it a good effort.

Gender Bender is also quick to improvise when things don't go according to plan. At one point her guitar cord was wrapped around a microphone stand and she took the stand out, got on all fours and sung into the mic as it sat on the floor. By the way, she has a nice voice too, with a good range and a lot of power.

The Metro played host to a short and sweet rock'n'roll show Sunday night, but it was a good one.