Over The Weekend: Butthole Surfers, Peaches, MEN at The Granada Theater

Categories: Show Reviews
Butthole Surfers, Peaches and MEN

Granada Theater
October 30, 2009

Better than: Not too much--especially since it was my birthday.

ButtholeSurfers1.jpg
Butthole Surfers

About this same time last year, the original conglomeration of the Butthole Surfers came to Dallas to perform for the first time in over a decade. And even though drummer Teresa Taylor wasn't exactly up to the task (having not played for quite a while), the band sounded terrific.

Even singer Gibby Haynes' dad (know around these parts as Jerry "Mr. Peppermint" Haynes) showed up for the fun and the entire night's vibe was exuberant.

Not this time around. Coming at the end of a semi-lengthy tour (and minus Teresa), this quartet of Surfers (especially Gibby) was surly from the start. Only guitarist Paul Leary seemed to be having any fun at all. Bassist Jeff Pinkus (who I literally caught wind of in the parking lot before the show) looked like a man on the wrong end of a buzz.

The set list, much like last year, was drawn primarily from the band's early catalog. So the expected treasures of "Something," "Creep in the Cellar," "Negro Observer" and "Cherub" all sounded great--but Gibby's seemingly endless annoyance with the sound crew as well as the endless backdrop videos of exploded heads gave the show a downer atmosphere. I've probably seen the Surfers over 20 times now, and although some shows have had a sickly, textile quality to them, I've never left one feeling glum until this particular evening.

The Surfers weren't bad--just in a bad mood.

During the band's encore, the fog machines roared to life. So much so, that exiting the venue became a tumultuous affair. One individual, a lovely little gal name Lily, barely made it through the thick cloud in vertical form; an odd, but fitting end to the evening.

But before all the doom and gloom of the Surfers came two really good openers. MEN, an offshoot of Le Tigre, hails from Brooklyn, but the sound of this interestingly androgynous trio actually falls close to that of England's New Order. Peppy synths, high-pitched vocals and a bevy of geeky dance moves endeared the band to the already well-oiled crowd.

After MEN's set came Peaches. The crowd swelled, especially down front, as an unambiguous, female contingent make its presence known. The buzz for this 42-year-old Canadian was sky high and, once she hit the stage, it was easy to see why.

Huge wigs--and I'm talking body length jobs--were the order of the day as Peaches and her adept backing group of musicians and dancers put on a show that even the Surfers couldn't follow.

Songs like "Talk to Me," "Billionaire" and especially "Fuck the Pain Away" were not just campy and danceable, but they were also intelligent commentaries on topics as vast as sexual identity and modern economics. When Peaches was holding court on the stage, there was simply not anyone else in town that mattered. Whether it was climbing the stage trestles or surfing on top of the crowd, this crazy bitch took it to another level.

When Peaches ended her set (after an encore--rare for an opener), the crowd responded like the night was over. And for many patrons, it was, as a pretty large part of the packed house departed before the Surfers even hit the stage.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I have been a fan of the Butthole Surfers since the beginning, but tonight, for whatever the reason, the act seemed kind of tired. Gibby singing through the megaphone, the processed squeals of feedback, even the backing videos, didn't carry the wallop I recall in the late '80s. Of course, I wasn't high and I might have been the only one there who wasn't...

By The Way: A dressed down Peaches snuck into the crowd for the Surfers' set. A fan did recognize her, but Peaches politely asked not to be disclosed. The chick is just cool.

Random Note: I bought my son a Butthole Surfers t-shirt. He asked he could wear it to school. I told him no, but since we are Unitarians, he could probably wear it to church.


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