Live Review: The Coathangers @ DC9, 4/18/17

Intrepid mysterious Special Guest Star The Paper went in search of good live sounds, and the following is what transpired when he took in The Coathangers at DC9.

One hazard of a music journalist is that it can distract from the experience. When something noteworthy occurs, I have to debate between scrambling to take a few words down or mentally committing it to memory, both of which take my attention away from the moment. Even if nothing special is happening, I often find myself searching for something that may not be there or simply thinking about what I can write later. I gave up doing so for The Coathangers.

It's somewhat disorienting trying to think when the floor is rocking like a boat on savage seas thanks to the energy of the crowd. It was so intense I wondered if the mathematics of the architecture accounted for such stress. It doesn't help that a good number, encouraged by Julia, sang along loudly to almost every song. She even applauded their efforts on
a few occassions in the same manner of a coach conveying a job well done. The trio's energy is always so contagious.

I first saw them as a four piece and was floored when they took turns playing each other's instruments. This is infinitely impressive given their lack of formal music training. I was delighted to see this practice has not changed. They each bring their trademark style to the performance evoking a superhero team aesthetic akin to the Powerpuff Girls, with the added bonus that their abilities/weapons are interchangeable. I especially liked Julia's pacing back and forth in tandem with the beat.

Equally unique is their sound. There's an infectious and dance-inducing catchiness to the shouts not typically found in punk rock. Speaking of which, all three have distinctive voices that add colorful texture. This was most noticeable when they chanted in unison after a carousel of vocal duties.

At the conclusion of the hour long set, Julia mentioned two names no one recognized, until she offered the punchline that they were dogs. I was too busy eyeing the red object in her hand to consider her comment. That is, until she held it up to the mic and squeezed. It was a dog chew toy. The squeaks from the toy complimented the aptly named "Squeeki Tiki" song perfectly inducing the crowd to head bang. I am unaware of such cleverness by other bands, and it just confirms what The Coathangers has known all along. Playful imagination rocks!

[words and photo of The Coathangers by The Paper]

[posted 4.28.17]


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