When: Sat., April 15, 9 p.m. 2017
We're used to thinking of punk shows as compartmentalized affairs: vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and drummer churning out thunder from their respective corners of the stage, raucous flotsam that's subsequently galvanized into the cohesive, crushing whole we witness from the crowd. Not so for The Coathangers: the Atlanta trio's live sets resemble a game of musical chairs, with guitarist Julia Kugel, bassist Meredith Franco, and drummer Stephanie Luke taking ample opportunities to switch things up, swapping instruments, harmonies, and lead vocal duties as they tear through their playful, razor-edged bubblegum.
If that all scans as a bunch of young women "playing nice," a cursory listen to the band's songs—crass rockers with titles like "Shut the Fuck Up," "Nestle in My Boobies," and "Squeeki Tiki" (a garage jam heavily featuring, you guessed it, squeaky toys)—should prove sufficient in establishing the opposite. They're troublemakers at heart, caterwauling satirists out to remind us that shows are supposed to be fun, dammit, and not to take ourselves so seriously. At the same time, The Coathangers recognize the threat of sonic staleness that can come out of a career spent horsing around. On the band's most recent effort, last year's playfully titled Nosebleed Weekend, the group expands its tripartite tantrums into dense, full-bodied pop-rock that packs in more vocal nuances, not to mention studio polish. The band recorded Nosebleed Weekend at the famed Valentine Recording Studios in Hollywood, a former creative crucible for the likes of the Beach Boys, Allah-Las, and others that, prior to the trio's arrival, hadn't housed any recording sessions in nearly forty years.
And so, a decade into their career—enthusiastically backed by all their peers back home in Georgia, from Mastodon to the Black Lips—The Coathangers are on top of their game, redirecting their collective glance toward the world writ large. But don't worry—they won't be keeping it totally serious onstage. They admit that's just impossible. "I can't even watch [Julia] when we're playing ["Squeeki Tiki"] live," Luke told Spin last year, "'cause I start laughing. And then I'll fuck up on the drums, I'm like, "Dammit, focus, focus." Hey, a little collective, cohesive comedy never hurt anyone. —Zoe Camp