The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 8th

Butchies Embody Tough Estro-Punk

The Butchies
Cat's Cradle


Butchies drummer Melissa York stood on her stool. Towering over her drum set, she made a proud declaration to cap off her band's set.

"I feel like Madonna ... with a little bit of Celine Dion!"

Maybe so, but the Butchies are another scene, entirely.

For the punk-queer-core trio hailing from Durham, the diva-esque sequined formal wear is a far cry from their standard issue.

Each band member was clad in black Converse low-tops, blue Dickies work pants and blue workshirts with nicknames embroidered on it like a hard-core version of "Laverne and Shirley's" factory garb.

It's not a soft image, to be sure, but there is a sort of tough, beautiful androgyny to their appearance under the stage lights.

Such a look meshes well with their energetic sound, a more hard-core version of Veruca Salt, minus the angry-girl driven lyrics. Basically, the Butchies are a punk band with an astounding musical ability that permits them to blend bass, guitar and drums into complex rhythms that are complemented by strong and varied vocal overlay.

As the trio took the stage following a handful of lukewarm opening acts, a different sense pervaded the crowded room. When guitarist/singer Kaia Wilson began by saying "I'm so happy that you could be here tonight to attend the homosexual concert," that was it -- the crowd was hooked.

Wilson was accompanied by bassist/vocalist Alison Martlew, who captivated with her tough-girl shaved-head look, and York, who played the part of an atypical drummer by constantly approaching a forward mic to converse with the audience. The trio was tight, and their closeness only served to add to the music.

But the band members were not there to showcase their egos or to impress the crowd with their musical prowess. Instead they were a dynamic extension of the energized crowd, which was pulled along as the Butchies displayed astounding talents. The band has a knack for fluidly switching tempo by combining softer, more vocally-focused bridges with quick-paced, bass-pumped choruses.

Most amazing was the synchrony demonstrated by Wilson and Martlew, who stood at the front of the stage at neighboring mics. Every movement that the two made was perfectly choreographed, so that the duo even moved their heads side-to-side simultaneously. Such movements augmented the rhythm and drive of the overwhelming music.

The group's set closed with a cover of Kim Wilde's "Kids in America," which, in a surreal way, served to clinch the band's promotion of unity and acceptance.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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