Some bands manage to get ahead of the masses, riding the wave of the latest trend to wash over the music industry and cashing in on what is arbitrarily “hot.” Many others chase after that fleeting glimpse of success, becoming part of the trend, but sounding like too many other bands dotting the soundscape of America.

But from time to time, a band swims just below the surface, like a shark waiting for just the “right” moment to strike. On Friday night, I found myself floating in that dark, endless expanse of sonic fluid. All the while, wondering what was circling beneath the waves.

Yes, my friends. That proverbial shark struck from below, devouring my soul with an audacity I haven’t seen in decades.

Batty Machete and the Angry Cougars new EP “Bullshit Authority”

That shark, better known locally as Betty Machete and The Angry Cougars, pounced on the crowd at Ace of Cups in Columbus, delivering a devastating 13 songs in under 25 minutes. When they finished, I realized I have not heard such a sonic assault on my senses since the 1980’s.

The quintet is comprised of Betty Machete (vocals), Punky (bass), H-Bomb (drums), Mr. X (guitar) and Two Cans (guitar). They were celebrating the release of their new 6-song, 7-inch EP, “Bullshit Authority” as part of the Relay Rock Show weekend (the show is sponsored by Relay Recording).

Combining the energy and prowess of The Plasmatics, The Misfits, Ramones, Black Flag and more, they did not ease into a groove. Rather, they mashed their collective feet on the gas pedal and floored it.

Opening their set with Guilty, the guitar-driven number crashed headfirst into the collected mass in front of the stage. Betty Machete pulled no punches, screaming “You’re Guilty!” while daring anyone to even glance away for a moment. Seriously, she looked pissed off, making me glad I was standing by the soundboard.

The backbone of BMAC… Punky & H-Bomb
(Credit: Jason Bash)

Machete’s look of disdain was powerfully mesmerizing as the band launched into Book Of Hate, from their 2013 7-inch single “Don’t Call The Cops/Book Of Hate.” Punky was carpet-bombing the audience with his bass, the notes thumping through our chests.

They transitioned directly into Life Is Suckin, from the new EP. It was fast, loud and wonderful. They captured the angst that fills all of us with doubts and setbacks. When Machete burns through the line “Life is suckin the life outta me, getting dark – I just can’t see,” we know exactly what she means.

With the tribal beat of H-Bomb’s drums announcing Don’t Give A Fuck, I was transported to any of the myriad clubs of the early 1980’s that catered to punk rock. The way Machete spit “I don’t give a fuck!” at the crowd, I immediately heard the renowned anger of Wendy O. Williams (The Plasmatics) loud and clear coming through the sound system in Machete’s voice. It was as though I was back in the dingy confines of CBGB’s, all over again.

Betty and Two Cans after the show…
(Credit: R Gethin)

Equalize was one-part Misfits, one-part Black Flag and one-part Ramones. Make no mistake, it full of a sound that The Angry Cougars call their own.

The frenetic energy of Don’t Call The Cops assaulted us next, lasting merely 80 seconds. With a wry smile on her face, but still looking pissed off, Machete’s screams pushed us over the edge as the band hammered Take You Down throughout the venue.

Whiskey Dreams was fast, with Machete practically growling the lyrics, while the band kept the sonic punk melody flowing. She came off the stage, yelling “I want your power, it gets me off…” on Power, as the band kept the speedy pace without missing a beat. Machete carried herself through the crowd with an air of daring anyone to disagree with her. Her power (forgive the pun) over the crowd was on full display.

The dual guitars of Mr. X and Two Cans had my fingers tattooing the beat as Bullshit spewed forth over the crowd. Both are excellent guitarists, with Two Cans bouncing around his part of the stage throughout their set.

At this point, they were merely 20 minutes into their set and I was convinced that Betty Machete is equal parts Wendy O. Williams and Bianca Butthole (Betty Blowtorch). Such was the emotion they evoked within my punk rock soul, that I kept having to remind myself that I was not at The Mudd Club, CBGB’s or City Gardens.

Betty Machete, Mr. X, Punky, Two Cans and H-Bomb (L-R)
(Credit: Jason Bash)

Somehow, they managed to increase the energy flowing from the stage with Bullet, with Machete spewing “I’m pissed, you’re on my list…” From this, they launched into the short, but oh so punk rock sounding sweet strains of Venom from the new EP. H-Bomb was all smiles as she kept the backbeat going strong.

The lead track from “Bullshit Authority” proved to be the perfect way to put an exclamation point on their set. What I Want is loud, fast and raw. It was especially poignant when Machete, with a wild look in her eyes, belted out “Fuck you, I’ll do what I want…” This song embodies the very essence of Betty Machete and The Angry Cougars. I think if Lemmy Kilmister were still with us, he would approve of it, as well.

Like the Ramones, this band packs a full song into under two minutes. You get a full-on, in-your-face punk rock show with no frills and no filler. It’s strictly balls-to-the-wall rock and roll.

So, roll up your sleeves, grab a cold beverage and prepare to be sonically violated. Trust me, you’ll thank them for it… every single time.

Setlist

  1. Guilty
  2. Book Of Hate
  3. Life Is Suckin
  4. Don’t Give A Fuck
  5. Equalize
  6. Don’t Call The Cops
  7. Take You Down
  8. Whiskey Dreams
  9. Power
  10. Bullshit
  11. Bullet
  12. Venom
  13. What I Want

Betty Machete and The Angry Cougars – What I Want