Photography by: Caroline Winsor
On November 14th, 2014, I had the pleasure of attending the Antemasque concert at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club with Le Butcherettes opening for them. Antemasque has spent the last few weeks on their North American tour for their debut album, Antemasque, which was just released on November 10th, 2014. (Check out our review of the album)
The Virgin Mobile Mod Club was an excellent venue for the rock show. It makes for an intimate show, enhancing the punk rock vibe from Antemasque’s performance. From the moment you enter, the audience is hit with the eccentric atmosphere of the venue. Between the posh chandeliers the thin layer of fog illuminated by the vibrantly colored lights, the overhanging disco ball, and the strange, avant-garde, electronic music playing from the clubs sound system, it is hard to describe the vibe emitting from the Mod Club, but it greatly added the show. One thing is for sure though, it certainly gets loud!
Taking the stage at 7:30 were Le Butcherettes. Hailing from Mexico, this alternative garage rock band took the audience for a strange experience. Their opening number consisted only of grunts. The lead singer, Teri Gender Bender, has a powerful voice. She would often belt out her parts while away from the mic and they were still highly audible. I was not a huge fan of their performance; their music seemed very unstructured, with the lyrics jumping between Spanish, English, and more grunts and screams, and I felt it was hard to keep track of the songs as they progressed. That being said, the few songs which were more instrument and riff based were better to listen to. Teri was full of this animalistic energy which had attracted the attention of a large part of the audience, and while appearing very primal, their performance seemed very artsy. For an opener, they managed to fill a large portion of the club long before Antemasque took the stage, and I believe there were quite a few people there just for them as many people at the front of the crowd during their performance chose to filter to farther back after their set. I don’t know what to make of their performance, but Le Butcherettes clearly have a dedicated fan base who enjoy their material, so maybe it was just me. What matters most is you can tell the absolutely love what they are doing.
Antemasque took the stage at about 8:45 and launched right into their hard hitting “In The Lurch”. This got the crowd going, and commenced a small mosh pit in the centre of the floor. Too much of my surprise, the band only played their own music; I was expecting some Mars Volta tunes thrown into the mix in order to extend their set. This makes it clear that they want to separate themselves from their previous material, carving out their new musical identity as Antemasque. Could this mean more music from the band in the future? I’m really hoping so; the songs are well written and their performance was explosive! I am seriously looking forward to any future shows and albums. On that note, in the middle of their set, the band played an unreleased track, titled “Domino Rain” which deserved to be on their recently released debut album, Antemasque.
The band’s set consisted of their entire album, with the exception of the acoustic “Drown All Your Witches”. This made for a continually adrenaline pumping performance as they blasted through the different upbeat thrashers from their album, including “4 AM”, “No Remorse”, and “Rome Armed To The Teeth” among others. The band performed as expected: with unbelievable precision and skill. Each musician in the band is a complete monster on their instrument. Their touring bassist, Marfred Rodríguez-López’s (yes, guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López’s brother) bass playing was as masterfully played as Flea’s on the album. Dave Elitch on drums is a powerful force, providing the band with tight grooves and a driving sense of energy, while creating a larger than life sound. Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s vocals were as impressive as those he sang on the record, and even more impressive considering he is in constant motion. He is a whirlwind of energy, running around the stage, swinging the mic by its cable and jumping off of Elitch’s kit, or the speakers while demonstrating his impressive vocal range at such a powerful level. If anyone had any doubts regarding Omar Rodríguez-López’s guitar playing, they were quickly put to rest as his playing was both highly musical, while incredibly virtuous. The audience responded very well to their entire performance.
The highlight of the show was when the band went to play the dark and aggressive “Providence”. Unlike the album version, which clocks in at just under five minutes, this rendition lasted nearly twenty minutes. It was extended with an incendiary solo from Omar which was followed by a long psychedelic segment, reminiscent of the vibes Pink Floyd would give off. It seemed full of improvised elements from all members of the band; Omar continued to solo, choosing when to shred, and when to be more melodic with his playing while Elitch and Marfred kept the groove flowing, in and out of time, yet perfectly in sync. After nearly fifteen minutes of this, the band seamlessly dove right back into a final chorus of “Providence”. They concluded their set with an intense performance of “People Forget”, where a fan hoped on stage and ripped off his shirt and belt and began to dance. He received cheers from the audience and a high-five from Cedric, which was prolonged by the man when he held onto Cedric’s hand and kissed it. This did not affect the bands performance in the slightest, as they carried on without any signs of disruption. My only complaint about the show was that they played for roughly an hour and a half, and I wanted so much more. I suppose that’s more a compliment to the band. Their overall performance was certainly one too see. They managed to captivate the audience for their entire set, showing a great sense of stage presence, while their musical ability as a group is matched by few. Antemasque put on a phenomenal show, one that I would recommend to any rocker.
1: In The Lurch
2: Momento Mori
3: 4 AM
4: No Remorse
5: 50,000 Kilowatts
6: Rome Armed To The Teeth
7: Ride Like The Devil’s Son
8: Domino Run
10: People Forget