Saturday was my ten year high school reunion. As much as I wanted to reconnect with all of the people that I had lost contact with over the years, one of the few bands left on my bucketlist was playing a show in Saint Paul and I was not going to miss it.
The show started with Le Butcherettes from Mexico. These guys started the show with a bang and a sense of attitude that would reign supreme throughout the night. Singer Teri Gender Bender had me in a trance from the moment she started performing. She had a sense of energy about her that seemed as intense as that of a metal band but the music was much more your classic garage-punk. The trio powered through their forty-five minute set with a ferocity and passion that had the nearly sold-out crowd stopped dead in their tracks.
Teri’s attitude throughout the set was eccentric without going over the top. She had this very “fuck-em-all” attitude that shined and was enough to have me kicking myself in the butt for never checking these guys out before. At one point, it seemed as if the heel on her shoe broke so she threw the shoe and heel part into the crowd and continued on with the set with just one shoe on. During their song “Dress Off”, Teri lived the lyrics by unzipping her jumpsuit to reveal a very cute red dress. It didn’t come off as a sexy thing but more of a statement. I don’t quite know how to explain it but everything about Teri screamed “strong independent woman” and “girl power” and I absolutely loved it. Their music was raw, their energy was raw… everything about their set screamed passion and I absolutely fell head over heels for them because of it.
With only two bands on the bill and the headliner being a super iconic post-hardcore group At The Drive In, the suspense was apparent as the stage was turned over. At The Drive In is one of those groups that I truly never thought I would get to see live. They broke up 2001, got back together in 2009, broke up again around 2011, got back together just a couple years ago… what I’m trying to say is that, clearly, the chances of my seeing these guys live were slim. Even when the band got back together those multiple times, there was always drama between band members and they would end up cancelling last minute majority of the time. That’s why, as the stage was getting set up, I wouldn’t let myself get too excited. I mean, what if they pulled one of their stunts and just didn’t show up. Better to not get my hopes up, right? That’s when I saw Cedric Bixler take the stage with his fluffy hair… that’s when I knew I would finally be seeing At The Drive In live.
The band didn’t waste any time jumping into their frantic and intense songs that shaped the childhoods of many people my age. The energy match the music and everything about the set screamed chaos. To say it was perfection would be an understatement and within the first song I knew that this set was going to be absolutely everything I wanted it to be– Everything I needed it to be. The fury coming off the stage was only matched by the pit that had taken over the crowd on the floor. People had been craving their chance to see this influential band and, for many of them like myself, this was their first chance and they weren’t going to let it pass.
Cedric seemed to cop a little bit of an attitude after the first couple of songs when he accused the crowd of not loving his show as much as they should. There was a thought in the back of mind that said he was going to leave the stage and cut the show short but, instead, the crowd picked it up and gave the band exactly what they wanted. After his little hissy fit, he seemed to also pick it up and give the crowd more of what they wanted. His signature jumps off of the speakers and the kick drums became more frequent and his quirky dance moves became a staple of the set.
Although Cedric steals the spotlight whenever these guys play, I can not end this post without mentioning the band that supports him. These guys play music that is not only unique, but also genius. The music is definitely chaotic when it comes to the primal screams and the heaviness that is masked behind them but there’s also a true sense of musicianship that can not be ignored. It’s hard to match the fury that not only comes out when Cedric sings but also as he moves across the stage but the four band members behind him have figured out a way to do so without stealing any of Cedric’ glory. The band members don’t really move around much but they still have this sense of energy as they play through their complicated music and that just enhancing At The Drive In’s live show.
At The Drive In’s set was a great mix of songs both old and new. Although the crowd seemed to respond more to the older songs, there was no lack of pushing, shoving and screaming during the newer songs. Being a band that has broken up multiple times, pulled the diva attitude thing too many times to count, it’s actually quite phenomenal that so many people have stuck by their side. Cedric seemed to recognize that and gave the crowd a heartfelt thank you that was enough to give me goosebumps. He seemed to be speaking from the heart as he thanked the fans for their obsession over At The Drive In because, as he said, without that obsession, they would be nothing.
I should have been at my ten year high school reunion Saturday night. I was really looking forward to seeing everyone I grew up with because I haven’t really done the best job of keeping in touch with them. Instead, I went to a concert. I mean, I guess it makes sense. During those ten years that I’ve been out of high school, I’ve been to over 1,500 shows so why stop now?