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Coathangers CD release show
with So So Death, Frantic, at the Star Bar
September 2007

Text by Emily Maxwell, photos by Frederick Noble

Christ, don’t you just love seeing local bands at unsavory dive bars (To clear up any confusion, I’m not actually addressing Jesus Christ. Unless of course Christ happens to read Electric Degeneration, which would be pretty rad)? Relishing the idea that you are an individual in swelling sea of scenesters, out to support local music? Feeling so fucking righteous about your decision to skip the boobtastic blockbuster at the Megaplex in favor of drinking microbrewery beer and buying homemade band t-shirts? Yeah, me too.

Without the delusions of grandeur (or the fancy beer) mentioned above, FN and I participated in some local hero worship when we attended the Coathangers CD release party at the Star Bar last weekend. In recent months, avoiding the Coathangers has become increasingly difficult. Riding high on a deluge of glowing press, the band was set to celebrate their first full-length studio release. On hand to help them commemorate their magic moment were openers So So Death, Frantic, and Chopper, making for a thoroughly earsplitting evening.

We arrived at the start of So So Death’s set, and were greeted, or rather bombarded, by the sound of writhing, spastic hardcore. A two-man operation consisting of just drums, bass, and vocals, So So Death generated a truly impressive amount of sound. While maintaining the sweet and simple hardcore formula of really loud and really fast, the band also incorporated some near space-rock moments into their set. Prolonged bass guitar dirges and wailing vocals were unexpected but welcomed. The immediacy of the drumming coupled with the detached, moody vocals made for an interesting aural dichotomy.
Can I use the words “aural dichotomy” when reviewing local hardcore acts? Have I shot my load?

Up next was Frantic. Thirty or so seconds into their first tune, I made the call to sit this act out. Perhaps I was falling down on the job and not upholding the Degenerate Press standard of excellence by foregoing a band on the bill, but I had to trust my instincts. And my instincts told me that these guys just weren’t going to cut it for me. It’s a funny thing that loud, fast punk can now be boring, but that’s how I felt about Frantic. I’d heard this song, “The Punk Rock Song”, a million times. Much like “The Reggae Song”, “The Punk Rock Song” is based on a simple formula. Being simple, “The Punk Rock Song” has been incessantly duplicated. I don’t need to hear that song again for a long, long time. So we retired to the Little Vinyl Lounge for a much nobler cause: sipping PBR and arguing over the cultural impact of Roseanne until the next band took the stage.

Sidebar by Frederick Noble

The Simpsons first appeared on the Tracy Ulman Show on April 19, 1987, beginning the end of the deconstruction of the ideal American Family. Rosanne started the following year, then 1989 brought us The Simpsons' own show and Married With Children. The ideal family had been on the ropes for some time. All In The Family, The Jeffersons, we could even go all the way back to The Honeymooners to reference the decline of the ideal father/husband/man on TV. But for my money, 1989 is the year Father went from Knowing Best to vegging on the couch with his hand down his pants, trying to tune out the family while turning on the TV. These days it's either Mother Knows Best, or All In The Family Are Morons (But Mostly Father.)

Following Some Band was Chopper, a three piece featuring members of Blame Game and Deerhunter. Pretty much the hippest act a young Atlanta tastemaker could hope to see, right?

I will attempt to leave hipster politics out of this review, but I might have to get just a couple of digs in.

I have to admit that part of my immense enjoyment of Chopper’s set was due to the fact they aren’t Blame Game and they certainly aren’t Deerhunter. While I’m a fan of both bands, Chopper’s set was utterly refreshing for what it wasn’t, but also for what it was. And what it was was high energy metal. Chopper’s sound reminds me somewhat of a garage band formed by 17 year-olds who have always worshiped Judas Priest, but who are just discovering the Pixies. Unlike most 17 year-olds, however, Chopper knows how to play their instruments well. Really well. The band’s sound is what I call incessant: completely unrelenting noise, but in the best possible way. Drummer Lamar’s inexorable and manic playing blended flawlessly with the wailing guitars on either side of him.

An appreciation for various styles of music was apparent even in the midst of face-melting shredding. Ultra-aggressive riffs alongside low-key, disaffected vocals make Chopper different from your typical metal act. They could feasibly be Motorhead’s illegitimate art fag baby, hell-bent on being a harbinger of the imminent apocalypse. Perhaps the most succinct way to describe Chopper’s performance would be to say that they have the talent and skill to play metal that slaughters, but the soundness of mind to leave out the some of the cliché male posturing, theatrics, and cock rock so prevalent in the genre. A truly righteous performance and a “fuck you” to whiny cry babies.

Following Chopper was, of course, the Coathangers. With a handful of friends, I hustled up front for a prime dancing spot prior to the start of the set. I suppose that in itself is testament to the fun of a live Coathangers show. If you come to the show surly, disenchanted, and bored, it’s difficult to enjoy the set. Believe me, I’ve been the surly girl at a Coathangers show and its not especially pleasurable. However, if you choose to come with few hang-ups or expectations, ready to have fun, then you have every reason to enjoy what these ladies have to offer.
 I’m going to refrain from the usual dialogue about what it means to be an all girl band, earning cred and dissuading haters. Instead, I’d like to attempt something that few publications have dared attempt: actually talk about the music! The Coathangers sound conforms to a fairly simple modus operandi: keyboard laden, art-damaged, dance rock. Taking a straightforward approach to music and applying it to their own “rowdy girl” aesthetic, the Coathangers have carved themselves a appealing niche.

Confident, squealing vocals akin to a temper tantrum grabbed the crowd’s attention while a pounding drumbeat was the impetus for a full-blown dance party. Therein lies one of the band’s greatest charms. Tunes like “Don’t Touch My Shit” or “Nestle in My Boobies” may rile or confuse folks, but while they’re being shocked by the Coathangers sometimes-salacious lyrics, they’re probably tapping their toes to an irresistible dance beat. The band has clearly begun to hone their skills as musicians and seemed to have gained confidence as performers, making for the best Coathangers show I’ve attended.

After playing through the “hit jams” from their new CD, the band retired from the stage, only to return for what they claimed was an unexpected encore. They played a cover tune for the occasion, but I failed to write it down and my booze-addled brain forgot what it was. All and all, a large time was had at the Star Bar, dreams came true, angels got their wings, and the Coathangers released their CD to an adoring public.

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