Jul 17, 2011 | 12:00 pm
“I don't like the Coathangers. I feel like a woman's yelling at me.”
That's the response more than one man has given when confronted with Atlanta's punk fourpiece, the Coathangers. Sure, their harmonies are an unconventional, unsettling combo or shrill, gruff and high-pitched jabs that tend to tumble dry in your ear. Same could be said for Rush, but you don't see any dudes complaining about them.
Sunday night at Mohawk, however, the haters were nowhere to be seen. For a band that formed at a house party five years ago, the Coathangers have harnessed their power in a more more tangible form, piling punk aesthetics into rock and roll's back seat. They opened with the riled-up “Johnny,” from third and latest LP Larceny & Old Lace (named after a Golden Girls episode, natch) before launching into the equally blunt-force “Hurricane” and “Chicken: 30.” The new tracks all sort of fell into the same shape: Four-count lead off, quiet verse, headbanging chorus, repeat.
Still, the ladies ran through the set list with the efficiency of a seasoned touring band, which is what they've become. All four worked together to keep the train on the tracks, while still embracing the music as primal scream therapy.
Drummer and singer Stephanie Luke is the eye of the hurricane, and when she growled through the pop-punk ditty “Cheap Cheap,” the lyrics reflected the lemme-tell-you-something ideology of their songs (“Well, you say you wanna hug. Then you say you wanna kiss. You can take it home to momma, honey. You ain't gettin' none of this.”). 2009's sophomore LP and Suicide Squeeze debut, Scramble, put forth their mission statement. They are Southern women and they don't hold back.
Scramble's “Gettin' Mad and Pumpin' Iron,” “Toomerhead” and “Arthritis Sux” matched the intensity of “Don't Touch My Shit” and “Nestle in My Boobies,” both from 2007's self-titled debut. They don't know how to be coy; this is the sound of women who know they're inevitably going to be compared to other “girl bands,” and offer a respite from Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and the ever widening wave of pop tartlets.
When they played “Don't Touch My Shit” last year at Girls Rock Camp Austin (don't worry, they changed the last word to “Stuff”), there wasn't a dry eye in the house, as one girl after another let go of her inhibitions and screamed, “Leave my stuff alone!”
So, maybe that's their message to all the haters out there. They don't care if they're yelling at you; this is their stage, and you can get on or get off.