They’re an all-female band with music videos that include bikini-clad girls wrestling and shoving hot dogs in each other’s mouths, albums with titles such as Heart Like a Fist and These Boots Won’t Lick Themselves (the latter containing a pair of songs called “Cum” and “Motortits”), and a look that falls somewhere between '70s biker chic and '80s slacker. Aesthetically speaking, Thelma and the Sleaze live up to their name and then some. More important, the Nashville-based trio deliver plenty of badass substance to match their trashy style.
The band’s bio says that it's a “power trio sludge fest Thin Lizzy creeps on us” and that their interests include “daisy dukes, knife fights, leather daddies.” From social media to some incredibly creative and hilarious concert posters, a lot of what Thelma and the Sleaze put out there is funny, weird, and very entertaining. But the music itself is brazen and muscular, and bandmates Chase Noelle (drums), Lauren Gilbert (guitars/vocals), and GiGi Gallagher (bass) work hard at their craft.
Case in point, this past February, Thelma and the Sleaze played a show every single night in Nashville for what they called the first “intra-city tour.” In addition to rock clubs, the Kandyland tour took them to some odd locations, among them the parking lot of a coworking space for artists, Fort Houston; a McDonald’s near Opryland; and, of course, a coin laundry. To promote this unique tour, they came up with an enticing promo and raffle for audience members: “This ONCE IN A LIFETIME TOUR features A LIMITED CASSINGLE + FREE BEER + a chance to WIN A VAN THAT REALLY RUNS.”
Sounding like Sleater-Kinney-inspired, Southern-fried punk trudging through a mire of cigarette butts, empty beer cans, and the spirit of Janis Joplin, Thelma and the Sleaze are a unique experience. Even the group’s origin story seems like some fiction they concocted. In an interview with the Houston Press, Noelle explained that the band formed after original members Baby Angel and LG came across someone poking around in their tour van while at a gig with their old outfit, the Trampskirts.
"Baby Angel came out of the venue to smoke and saw a pair of legs hanging out of the Trampskirts van. She had a phone charger with her and wrapped the cord between her two hands like she was going to choke the thief out. That was her reaction. Not to yell for help but to strangle someone with a phone cord. The 'thief' was obviously LG, sifting through shit in the van. They joked about it being a Thelma and Louise sisterhood moment, and Baby Angel said that if Trampskirts ever fizzled, they should start a band called Thelma and the Sleaze. A week later, the singer dropped off and LG stepped up and finished the tour singing all of her parts. They got back to Nashville and started Thelma and the Sleaze. That final Thelma and Louise scene, when they hold hands while they drive their car off a cliff — that's the most accurate way to describe our rapport as a band."
Six years later, that bond has produced a slew of admirers, six releases, and their upcoming full-length, Somebody’s Doin’ Somthin’. Slowly but surely, Thelma and the Sleaze are building a well-earned reputation for their imaginative approach to DIY rock 'n' roll. Tonight, they bring their antics to Lake Worth’s Propaganda for what should be, at the very least, a memorable show consisting of not giving a shit and, if their music videos are any indication, raunchy girls who just wanna have fun.
Thelma and the Sleaze 8 p.m. Monday, March 7, at Propaganda, 6 S. J St, Lake Worth. Tickets cost $6 at the door, with $1 going to Lexie's cancer fund.
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Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd who happens to write words (and occasionally take photos) for Miami New Times. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you. His wealth of useless knowledge concerning bands, film, and Batman is matched only by his embarrassingly large collection of Hawaiian shirts and onesies.