Butchers rule: Could Burrito be new Rose?

The Butchers and Hillbilly Werewolf
at Atomic Burrito
Saturday, March 19

Saturday night was my first trip to Atomic Burrito for anything but tasty comestibles, and I have to say I was surprised at how well the place worked for seeing live music. It would never have occurred to me that the former Liquid site could be transformed, with a little muted lighting and a lot of liquor, into a thriving night-spot, but if Saturday's packed house was any indication, things seem to be going well for both sales and– well– buzz.

As I arrived, visions of the defunct Tokyo Rose danced through my head, at least on nights when rockabilly was one of the performing act's chosen genres. Black was the color of the night, with clothing running the gamut of ripped to torn, and tats abounded with a frequency that almost made unmarked skin the hot new thing.

Cowboy hats and painted faces reminded of times gone by, though the latter had a profitable purpose, I was to learn later. Grabbing a bit of table for taking notes standing up, I began an evening of slouching, leaning, standing bolt upright, and finally slouching again as The Butchers took the stage.

A four-piece of bass, drums, guitar/vox, and keyboards, the lot of them had donned white aprons splattered with blood (a little hook I found amusing, in contrast to my feelings about the indie group Clinic's habit of always wearing surgeons' masks, which I think is just stupid), and played some great distorted pop/rock, awash in screaming and '50s I - vi - IV - V ­ I chord progressions (think "Please Mister Postman").

Not exactly rockabilly, the group's sound was driven by domineering riffs placed inside the keys of that decade's musical confines, reminding me of DC/Harrisonburg's The Carlsonics, but with a tighter, catchier sound.

At points, the songs sounded like they wouldn't have been out of bounds for the early Beach Boys, if that group had discovered distortion, unbuttoned their top buttons, and taken some mind-altering drugs (earlier, that is, than Brian Wilson did).

Hillbilly Werewolf was on next, and after an audience-participation-for-approval costume contest featuring the grand prize of "over $20 in music" in the form of CDs, the echo-laden howl told me the band was about to let loose with their notably more rockabilly guided set.

Though the songs seemed to run together in a mélange of '50s chord progressions, both times I've seen the group I've thought they were great– lyrically indecipherable, but that's not the point. HW seemed to be the act that most of the crowd was present for, thanks to building their audience through their insane Rose shows.

But for me, The Butchers ruled the night.

The Butchers