PRISM TATS: Despite Saturday’s abrupt announcement that day three’s Raw Femme showcase had been canceled, the bill at the Bunkhouse ran smoothly, with some sets actually starting early. That was the case on the outdoor stage for Prism Tats, who dove into his set minutes before the scheduled 11 p.m. slot.
Surprisingly, Garret van der Spek, LA-based by way of South Africa, played without his touring band in tow, and the crowd seemed confused at first. But Spek quickly won them over with his precision-cut guitar work and turbo-charged vocals as he showcased his diverse songwriting.
Spek used talk-box effects and distorted riffs to transform “Pacifist Masochist” into one of the night’s most stuck-in-your-head cuts. “It’s less reliable than a drummer,” Spek joked about his gear while setting up for the next song. By the time Prism Tats played rousing, punk-inspired tracks “Know It All” and “Death or Fame,” the crowd had swelled in size, and Spek’s energetic performing style almost made you forget he was playing sans band—and wonder just how good Prism Tats would sound with all the right parts in place.
SAME SEX MARY: Dressed in homage to the Simpsons, the seasoned Boulder City garage-rock faves produced yet another memorable Reverb production. The theatrical display helped push the set over the edge, especially “Black Widow,” featuring Vegas MC Hassan spitting fiery bars. Just as the hip-hop titan took the mic, a stage hand unleashed a bag of balloons into the crowd—already waving neon-green glowsticks—for the perfect ending to an electrifying set.
LE BUTCHERETTES: Studio recordings don’t do this band justice. On tape, the three-piece band from Guadalajara, Mexico, sounds crisp, fiery and direct, but live Le Butcherettes transforms from a vivacious rock outfit into a powder keg of brazen feminist punk and experimental rock.
To put it simply, seeing Le Butcherettes live is an experience, one bandleader Teri Gender Bender treats with extreme seriousness. The frontwoman’s monstrous vocals, raucous guitar shredding and uninhibited theatrics invoke a spiritual and spellbinding power that’s equal parts beautiful and terrifying.
“I never knew you,” Bender screamed at the end of “The Leibniz Language” from 2011’s Sin, Sin, Sin, her wide-eyed, deranged stare piercing through the crowd. Her magnetic vocals and frenetic stage presence dominated the set, bringing her memorable lyrical content to life. Bender’s fiery persona is influenced by a series of events from her adolescence—the loss of her father, being bullied and watching her mother overcome workplace misogyny—all of which have prepared her to tackle heavy issues like the corruption and violence in her native Mexico.
During “Stab My Back,” Bender writhed onstage—and later in the middle of the crowd—propelled by thrashing percussion and dark, brooding basslines. But it wasn’t until the last song, “Henry Don’t Got Love,” that the overarching theme of global feminism made the greatest impact. “Your guns are made of deadly feathers, my death asphyxiates your golden matters,” Bender sang with increasing determination before breaking from the song’s lyrics to address Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram and the 43 students killed in 2014 in Guerrero, Mexico, among other atrocities.
After the emotional ending, Bender bent down to embrace a woman in front of her, then moved from fan to fan, hugging each person and thanking them for coming. It was a heartfelt finish to a devastatingly raw show, one of Neon Reverb’s all-time best.