If you’re a dog-loving Kathleen Hanna fan with a penchant for equality and the unknown, The Coathangers’ female dominated shows will forever change you.
The trio, hailing from Atlanta, released their fifth record, Nosebleed Weekend, earlier this year and are nearing the decade anniversary of their self-titled first album. Under the aliases Minnie Coathanger, Crook Kid Coathanger and Rusty Coathanger, Meredith Franco, Julia Kugel and Stephanie Luke are veteran punks who continually find new sounds with which they chronicle their lives.
Listening to their latest collection of songs, the first standout moment occurs 10 seconds into “Squeeki Tiki.” Is that a dog toy? In a riot grrrl-esque anthem of independence? The “instrument” holds a surprisingly deep meaning to singer and guitarist Kugel. When her long-term relationship ended, she left everything—clothes, records, etc.—behind and only asked to take her pet. Two years later and she still hasn’t seen her canine friend.
“You can have it. I don’t want that shit, but I just want my dog,” she remembered.
The Coathangers are not a band of girls; they are actually, by definition, not girls anymore—they are neither children nor young women. They’re inspiring, powerful and commanding onstage. They’re supportive, full of experience and appreciative of all they’ve achieved offstage. Sharing nights with iconic Swedish punks Refused and Atlanta rockers The Black Lips, the three are seasoned musicians who do not wear the label “girl band,” but do happen to be women.
They praise Beyonce’s Lemonade (hence, the bag of lemons in their portrait) and collectively adore everything Bikini Kill. The Coathangers spread female empowerment in a bold, straightforward way. New Orleans trio Gland voiced their admiration for their ATL elders; that The Coathangers have already garnered credit for inspiring younger musicians is one of the ultimate compliments. The product of their lives and the songs and artists that molded them, they have become figures for women and men alike to attempt to emulate.
Speeding through songs from their many years together, Franco, Kugel and Luke fluidly swapped places on stage numerous times. While drumming, Luke lends her deep rasp, which she attributes to years of cigarettes, to songs like the infectious “Make It Right” and occasionally plays bass and guitar. Kugel, who spent days perfecting the guitar tone for “Down Down,” takes her seat at the drum kit in between belting the lyrics to “Excuse Me?” and almost whispering on “Copycat.” Franco, standing in petite contrast to Luke’s tall frame, is the source of eerily-sweet vocals and of a bass guitar heartbeat. Nothing is set in stone and there’s an air of spontaneity on a Coathangers stage.
Following a string of headlining dates and supporting slots with Plague Vendor and Refused, The Coathangers headed back to Georgia for the 2016 AthFest Club Crawl, where fellow ATL band The Black Lips also performed. Next up, they will play their hometown Music Midtown festival in the fall.
The matching “Wild At Heart” tattoos inked into each member’s skin (also lyrics in “Squeeki Tiki”) are permanent symbols of how far they’ve come and how much farther they’ll go together. The Coathangers never seem to sleep and regularly play around the South, so keep an eye on their social media pages for new dates and tours.