Cherry Glazerr dissolves L.A. alt-rock archetypes with a mischievous, powerful thrust
The night after Valentine’s Day, hundreds of twenty-something fans dressed up in their glammiest garb to pack The Bowery Ballroom and await the start of Cherry Glazerr’ second sold-out New York show that week.
“Trash” by The New York Dolls vamped over the house speakers before the band took the stage and, though the local classic went largely unrecognized by the majority of kids in crowd, it served as a reminder that there will always be a large swathed of frustrate youth who are true slaves to the graves, embracing the unpretentious crusty lifestyle. What followed was a set celebrating the band’s subversion of tired, L.A. machismo rock tropes and inverted gender dynamics, as buoyant stans hopped around the room with young hearts full of timely resistance and rebellion.
Cherry Glazerr frontwoman Clem Creevy was happy to oblige them, and a brief brush up on her history tells us how she balances substance and image so effortlessly. By the time she turned 18, Creevy already had already released two Eps and an LP of goofy, sludgy garage on beloved slacker label Burger Records, made a splash in the modeling world for being Yves Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane’s “muse,” and managed to excel in these two worlds without a hint of hypocrisy.
By the time Cherry Glazerr released their second full length and debut on Secretly Canadian, Apocalypstick, on the day of Trump’s inauguration, Creevy merged her talent for style and song to show that she wasn’t anyone’s muse but her own. Dripping with alt-rock hooks and stargazing Blonde Redhead falsettos, Apocalypstick was slicker, more polished, and subversive than anything the band had released before. Songs like “Told You I’d Be With the Guys” evoked and “Nurse Ratched” evoked group gender dynamics and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest over glossy buzzsaw guitars.
In my interview with Creevy ahead of the album’s release, she made it clear that she fully intended to embrace the L.A. alt-rock aesthetic only to fuck it up for good. “It’s a weird, sanitized exploitation and presentation of one version of an artist, when a fashion brand takes an artist under their wing,” she told me. “I see more culture vultures that wanna exploit young, beautiful rock stars. They idealize and fetishize a lifestyle that isn’t all glitz and leather and fucking coke and tour buses. It’s just not like that.”
Two years later, returning to the Bowery Ballroom to support their recently released third full length, Stuffed and Ready, Cherry Glazerr stepped up both their alt-rock sleaze and their wanton destruction of a cocksure patriarchy. The aforementioned Apocalypstick tunes sounded even better than their prior Bowery show two years back, and Creevy kept up both lead and rhythm duties in the band’s current iteration as a power trio with an oomph disarming in its ease and lack of pretension.
Creevy’s songwriting has grown sharper, too— with its light S&M theme, Stuffed tracks like “Daddi” and “Wasted Nun” flipped the script on modern assumptions of submission and power that brought a sea of young female fans rushing the stage, pushing aside dudes in hoodies to rage at the makeshift altar, marked by a giant, inflatable pair of cherries looming behind the band. Apocalypstick song “Trash People” was never played on that tour, but the band tore through the tribute to those who live a life of crusty cool, cementing its status as one of the band’s most powerfully anthemic groovers. Though nowhere near as glam as The Dolls’ “Trash”, its celebration of young sleaze is similar nonetheless.
The band brought out New York-based guitarist Delicate Steve out for the rollicking rave-up, “That’s Not My Real Life”, the studio version of which also has him riffing out with Creevy. Steve’s got a growing reputation for his dexterity and skill as a lead player, but it’s a testament to how far Creevy has come as a player in the last couple of years, too, that she’s able to not only go toe-to-toe with a guitarist of caliber, but match his perfect tone and brazen energy.
Not that Creevy needs another dude onstage to lift her up— Devin O’Brien on bass and Tabor Allen on drums provided the backup necessary. It became clear throughout the set that Creevy could shift into full rockstar mode without abandoning her sense of humor. Every so often, she would hold her guitar between her legs and pretend it was a penis, not only acting like the goofy kid she started recording as (her first tape was titled after her nickname, “Clembutt”) but also flaunting her bravado as a powerful, ‘take no prisoners’ performer. She’d also take a beat between every few songs and make a goofy face or do an awkward dance, further diffusing any illusions of rockstar posturing.
Maybe that’s the true magic of Cherry Glazerr’s schtick—coming from a vapid, image-obsessed town where so many young, beautiful women in rock’n’roll have for so long only had a shot at making a name for themselves when through the male gaze, Creevy and her band offer proof that such gatekeeper-ism deserves to be torn down, and what’s more, never did any good in the first place. If Kim Fowley weren’t already dead, Cherry Glazerr would have been the ones to finally kill his creepy ass.