The Coathangers Reprise a Decade of Rock at Star Bar
Few can disagree that The Coathangers decade-long journey so far has been an incredible one. For the Atlanta-based band, composed of guitarist-vocalist Julia Kugel, bassist-vocalist Meredith Franco, and drummer-vocalist Stephanie Luke, their growth and evolution over the last ten years has been one that many didn’t see coming. Goofy and amateurish at first, I don’t think the band took themselves seriously when starting out, but they kept going. They toured constantly. They worked their asses off. They developed their sound without losing their kick-you-in-the-teeth attitude. All this and they're still going strong, so naturally I was excited to hear I’d be covering them for Stomp and Stammer's 20th Anniversary Show.
It had been years since I enjoyed some good ol’ rock n’ roll at Atlanta’s Star Community Bar, so as I stepped out of my Uber ride I couldn’t help but take a moment to enjoy some blissful nostalgia from one of the first joints I visited in town. I walked inside and noticed the place was already getting packed. I squeezed my way through the crowd to the front and settled right by the stage (not an easy feat when covered with photographer gear, as I was also shooting that night). Not even five minutes there and I was covered in beer. Not even ten minutes in and I was being trampled by a couple who was trying to get a lift up onto the other one’s shoulders. Ah, it was good to be back.
The show kicked off with new Atlanta band Black Cat Rising, who brought some serious energy to wake the crowd up and get things started. Bad Spell came on next with some dirty-ass rock n’ roll, with songs like “Gotta Put You Down,” “Sick on Love,” and “Don’t Go Out Tonight.” By now everyone was really getting into it. Up next was Dasher, who I had seen live once before and they did not disappoint. Drummer-vocalist Kylee Kimbrough was a monster on stage, screaming and growling while thrashing her drum set like it owed her money. It was quite the sight to behold.
The bar was at full capacity and everyone was waiting eagerly for the headlining act. I chatted with a friendly fellow decked out as Krampus between the set as we waited. It was both our first time seeing The Coathangers live, despite being fans for years. The crowd began to howl as the band came to set up on stage. Before going on, the owner of Stomp and Stammer came out to thank everyone for coming and to introduce the native ATL punk trio. A wave of PBR cans rose in salute as the girls took the stage.
They wasted no time getting into it. Opening with the fast-paced chords of “Squeeky Tiki”, a single of their new album Nosebleed Weekend, every warm body in that joint was up and jumping around. Following with the softer intro to “Down Down," the crowd swayed in a trance-like state before they ramped it back up again for the chorus. More shouting, cheering, and beer flying everywhere. At some point that couple from earlier came back and put me up on their shoulders, allowing me some shots of the crowd and everyone having a good time.
Overall, it was a hell of a good time. They kept the energy high the whole way through, and by the end of the set the air was thick with sweat and beer. Thanks again for a crazy party, Stomp and Stammer. And thank the gods my not-so-cheap camera came out unscathed.
Photos by Missy Stowell for Bullet Music