Boston-area bar Great Scott has a reputation as being THE place to see the next big thing before they become “the next big thing.” Monday, October 5th was no exception. The Coathangers and Japandroids have both been steadily building online buzz and scoring high profile shows ( The Coathangers at SXSW and Japandroids at the Pitchfork Music Festival). Monday’s gig might well be one of those shows where the attendees said “I saw them back in the day.”
Allston locals earthquake party! kicked off the show with some peppy indie pop. The newly minted trio, formed this past summer, features Josh “J-Raff” Carrasco of Boston favorites The Wonderful Spells on drums. Boston indie rockers should definitely keep an eye out for earthquake party!’s next show.
Then it was time for Atlanta, GA all-girl quartet The Coathangers to take the party to the next level. Formed in 2006, The Coathangers bring together guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, gang vocals and a whole heap of sass to create a raw, chaotic and joyful sound. Their lyrics run the gamut, from the fantasy of falling in love with an alien (“Sonic You”) to the unfortunately all-too common reality of a noisy neighbor (“Stop Stomp Stomping”). The band can turn from sing-song nursery rhymes to kick-your-ass mode faster than you can say “Don’t Touch My Shit.” In addition to positive reviews from Spin.com, MTV.com, Vice magazine and The Onion, The Coathangers recently won over the world of reality TV when the band was featured on an episode of TLC’s L.A. Ink where drummer Stephanie Luke got a ghoulish tattoo of her bandmates. When asked about The Coathangers, Luke simply said, “We’re just trying to bring back the fun.” And bring the fun they did.
The Coathangers are hardcore. As soon as they got onstage and strapped on their instruments, they were off, screaming and shouting their way through “Stop Stomp Stomping,” “Toomerhead” and “Pussywillow” from their sophomore album and first Suicide Squeeze release Scramble as well as “Haterade,” a favorite from their 2007 self titled debut. In addition to their instruments, each girl had a microphone in front of her. While guitarist Julia Kugel seemed to handle most of the lead vocals, not a song went by that didn’t involve the other members chiming in with a chorus of shouts or a catchy hook. It’s clear the band holds nothing back and enjoys doing so. In fact, The Coathangers make you want to start your own band because they are obviously having so much fun.
Halfway through the set, the band traded instruments and the real excitement began. Julia Kugel swapped her guitar for Stephanie Luke’s drum kit for a few songs. Luke traded the guitar for a center stage microphone and tambourine, hitting the tambourine against her thigh so aggressively she almost drew blood. For the second to last song, bassist Meridith Franco handed off her instrument to Luke and took over lead vocals for what is probably the band’s best-known song, “Nestle In My Boobies.” Franco danced gleefully around the stage, playfully imploring the object of her affection to “nestle in her boobies” with the rest of the band chiming in “They’re so comfortable!” The Coathangers closed their set with another standout track from their self-titled, the shout-along anthem “Don’t Touch My Shit.”
As Great Scott heated up, people packed in toward the stage in anticipation of the headliner—Vancouver’s garage rock duo Japandroids. Maybe this is why Japandroids guitarist Brian King set up a large fan on his side of the stage. Whether intended or not, the effect on King’s longish hair was similar to watching the whole show through a 80s music video filter. Hair flapping in the artificial breeze, Japandroids launched into their explosive, high-energy set, opening with “Heart Sweats” from their new Polyvinyl release Post-Nothing. With eyes closed, you would not guess there were only two people on stage. King and drummer David Prowse make enough noise for five people. With thrashing movements interspersed with “Woah-ohs” and “Yeahs,” the band clearly enjoyed themselves. The crowd, however, was typical Boston: a few kids jumping up and down and dancing, but most people respectfully nodding their heads and tapping their feet.
That all changed about four songs into the set when Japandroids busted out a cover of McLusky’s “To Hell With Good Intentions” and invited their merch guy Steve on stage. Steve gamely chugged a beer, then dove off of the stage into the tightly packed crowd. From that point on, all bets were off. Heads banged, arms pumped in the air, sweaty bodies swayed in every direction, moving ever closer to the band. Several more stage dives followed throughout the show, including a childhood friend of the band, which irked the venue staff but only encouraged the band and the crowd. Highlights included “Young Hearts Spark Fire” and “The Boys Are Leaving Town,” both from Post-Nothing. The band did not play fan favorite “Wet Hair,” mumbling something about a contractual obligation. Regardless, the fans were excited to be there and the band was impressed with the crowd. They expressed their affinity for Boston, telling the audience, “After two great shows in Boston, we’re telling our booking agent ‘We don’t care how long the drive is, we’re playing Boston!’” While certainly inspired by the crowd’s enthusiasm, it’s possible that this declaration of love also owed something to the multiple rounds of shots bought by the crowd for the band.
Japandroids and The Coathangers will continue on tour together until October 14th, after which Japandroids will continue on to New York for the CMJ Music Marathon, then over to Europe for a string of dates with A Place To Bury Strangers and back to the West Coast. The Coathangers will be playing the Scion Garage Fest in Portland, OR on October 17th with Roky Erikson, King Khan and fellow Georgians The Black Lips.
Click here for Japandroids dates
Click here for The Coathangers dates.