For a band whose fans love them so ardently, the Butchies don't seem to take themselves very seriously. Compare the Durham, NC outfit to another trio risen from the ashes of the first wave of riot grrl bands, Sleater-Kinney. S-K have begun to play with string arrangements and vintage synths, snapping promotional pictures wearing designer trench coats, hailing taxis. The Butchies' promo shots have evolved from goofy girl drag to suits, then to just jeans and tees. And their music has become more natural, too, in the band's five-plus years, getting tighter and more rollicking with each release. "We can just read each other and follow each other musically, in a sorta psychic sense," says singer and guitarist Kaia Wilson. "We're able to talk to each other and figure out the best way to make our music and our band be successful (in a fully encompassing sense of that word). And we're just having more fun these days; you know, drinking a lot of water, playing with the fart machine, pretty typical rock 'n' roll band."
In a lot of ways, the Butchies' music is more than typical rock 'n' roll -- it's archetypal. Since the politically charged pastiche of styles on their debut, Are We Not Femme?, the band has honed a kind of energetic, profoundly tuneful rock-punk hybrid that combines the crunch of some of the best '90s college rock with the freewheeling, romantic euphony of '70s Top 40, gluing them together with queer politics and punk rock spirit. The secret to the Butchies' sound probably lies in their unabashed love of the past. "I was born in 1974," says Wilson, "and most the time I think that's just right, because then when I was fourteen, UB40's 'Red Red Wine' hit the top and it was perfect timing. But I would have to say I have nostalgia for the '70s in a way that feels like if I was twenty, I would have had a good time." The Butchies play 924 Gilman in Berkeley Sunday night, with the Cost and Free Verse opening, and a showing of the film Gynopunks. All ages, 5 p.m., $5. 510-525-9926.
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