Bitchin’ babes and bruisin’ tunes…
Witnessed by Jason Guest
2010 and I’m in LA. It’s a Monday night and there is plenty to do. The Sunset Strip never sleeps. There are plenty of clubs and bars to choose from, each with an abundance of bands peddling their musical wares in the hope of being the next big thing. One poster stands out from the many: Steel Panther at The Key Club. Decision made. Downstairs, a couple bands play. Can’t remember names, or song, or chorus, or any distinguishing feature. No next big thing down here. Upstairs maybe?
Before Steel Panther are set to appear comes the support act: a metal band with plenty of punk attitude spat into the mix fronted by two naked-but-for-stockings-and-nipple-tape psycho bitches storming around the stage masturbating their knife-mics, rubbing their crotches with the head of what I assume was one of their victims, tossing a disfigured baby doll about, screaming in each other’s face, and tearing at each other’s lingerie. Love, blood and baby guts, it’s a band called Butcher Babies. And while their Wendy O-inspired image was more than enough to distract from the music and hold everyone in attendance captivated, the music was just as powerful.
Eight years and three great albums later (and still getting flack for that now-long-discarded image) and the Butcher Babies are in the second city. And what a set they deliver! 8-string-bruiser Henry Flury, 5-string basher Jason Klein and crushing-beats-and-rhythms-whacker Chase Brickenden enter the stage to loud applause. When Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd enter soon after, the applause gets louder. And then the music kicks in. And the place kicks off.
What follows is a barrage of brutal tunes, roared vocals, seductive melodies and a whirlwind of on-stage action. Heidi and Carla cover the stage all at once, left to right to left and up on the pedestals and screaming into the crowd. Heavy is the name of the game, and slick is the spirit of the performance. Tonight’s show is the product of a lot of time spent on stage watching and winning over many an audience. This is a band that’s got their stage-craft nailed down and knows how to get and keep an audience right where they want them.
Tracks like ‘Monsters Ball’, ‘In Denial’, and ‘Headspin’ go down a storm, as does an unexpected and top notch cover of ZZ Tops’ ‘Beer Drinkers & Hellraisers’. Brickended’s drum solo – not something you’d expect from a modern metal band – goes down well and with ‘Headspin’ and the bitchin’ boogie of ‘Underground and Overrated’ to close out the set, Butcher Babies leave the crowd wanting more. It’s only just gone 10pm. There’s no way they’re leaving us so soon.
And so, a few minutes later, they’re back on stage with their version of Napoleon XIV’s ‘They’re Coming to Take Me Away’ leading the four-song encore. And while their calls for a pit to start up may not have got the crowd as stirred up as hoped, when Heidi and Carla jump into the crowd, the crowd need little encouragement to join in. The pit opens up and the show closes as it should: everyone’s ears ringing and on an adrenaline high.