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Levitation: The Coathangers Thrill and Thrash at Barracuda

  

 

The Coathangers, a punk rock band from Atlanta, headlined at Barracuda on a Friday during Levitation. First thing that comes to mind when you think of a  coat hanger? If you’re thinking DIY abortions, you got it. This 3 piece female outfit arrive at the venue early to sound check and shoot the shit. Meredith, the bassist, and Stephanie, on drums, were there to answer some questions. Check out the interview at the end of the article. 

They went on at 12:30am. The show was loud and fun and upbeat. Julia, lead vocalist and guitarist, takes the stage in a raspberry beret. One of the funky features of Levitation is the wild fashion that walked the streets. Everyone looks like they are in the band, and this weekend revealed that berets are back. 

They progress through the set with only a few pauses to laugh or banter between songs, or ask Karen to bring them all shots of tequila. The played mostly songs off their new album released this year, The Devil You Know. As the band loosens up with tequila, so does the audience begin to jump around and get hyped along just in time for “F the NRA,” an anthem that sounds exactly how it sounds. Fuck yeah. 

For the final songs, the ladies rotated instruments clockwise: Meredith moved to drums, Stephanie moved to vocals, Julia moved to bass for “5 Farms.” Stephanie on vocals was a visceral affair, her rapping raspy voice stirred the crowd into a mild mosh marked by jumps and stomps in unison. The audience shouts along to the liberating (and existential) chorus: “Can’t take it with you/ Nobody gets out alive.” 

Back to their own instruments, they close the set with “Bimbo” and Julia has now introduced a squeaky toy. She squeaks the squeaker how someone would bang a tambourine, the squeaks complementing the satirical nature of the song as she laughs maniacally with her bandmates. See the music video once, and you’ll wish you were in their band too. 

The Coathangers give their entire selves to the performance. You can see the spirit of music pulsing through them as individuals but also through the band as a greater entity from beyond the ether. Saturday night at Barracuda was one of the most alive lineups of Levitation, and these ladies killed it with a class of their own coathanger design. 

-Mel Green

Do you ever feel fear when releasing music or art out into the world? 

 

Meredith: Not really because we do it for ourselves.

Stephanie: No, fuck no. Everyone’s going to have an opinion and you can’t control that. 

 

Did you have to cultivate that feeling within you?

 

S: It’s with anything else, I guess. If you live your life based on what other people think about you, it’s not much. 

 

What advice do you have for young punks?

 

S:  Do whatever you want but be nice. 

M: Just be nice! 

 

What artists inspire you the most?

 

S: Jesus. The good lord, Jesus. 

M: Julia and Stephanie inspire me. 

S: Yeah, my other Coathangers. We were inspired to start the band because of a lot of local Atlanta bands back in the day. It was Predator, The Hiss, Black Lips, Dear Hunter, Mastodon. That’s what helped us get the idea to do what we do now. 

 

There’s a lot of music in Athens, too, right?

 

S: What we joke about back home is that Athens is the musicians, and Atlanta is for people in bands. So, they do drum circles and stuff there and we just get drunk and play shit. 

Pidgeons Playing Ping Pong Mesmerizes Audience at Emos

 

 
Maryland funk jam band, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, blazed the stage with two full sets at Emo's on Friday night with a spectacular light show and performance. Frontman, 'Scrambled' Greg Ormont, was full force in his theatrics and brought increasingly high energy to an eager crowd. 
 
The band kicked off their first set with "Whoopie", enticing the crowd to start grooving along with them. Their call was indeed heeded, and the dancing never stopped. "Julia" from their 2014 album Psychology, was undoubtedly a crowd favorite with it's beachy cabana vibes recalling an adolescent missed opportunity with a girl named Julia. It would be remiss of me not to mention the mesmerizing rainbow of stage lights that transformed the bare concrete inside of Emo's into what I can only imagine psychedelic dreams are made of.
 
The band returned for their second set, and Ormont acknowledged a blow up pickle prop and even performed a short, improvised and amusing song about the pickle. However, the apex of the night came halfway through their second set, when the band transitioned from "Burning Up My Time" into a cover of "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin. A bold move, but the cover was well received by a plethora of cheers and subsequently a mix of hands and cell phones shooting into the air to capture the moment. Jeremy Schon, on lead guitar, bravely ripped out a high energy solo before the band transitioned back into "Burning Up My Time," to the crowd's absolute delight.
 
The cheers for an encore were answered with, "Lowdown" and "Schwanthem." When the set finally concluded and the house lights came on, all eyes were wide and satisfied, adjusting back into reality and perhaps experiencing some light tracer sensations following a gratifying performance of sight and sound in equal parts.
 
-Amy Arnold
 

 

Men I Trust Exudes Sexy, Mellow Vibes at Emos

  

 

Men I Trust, the Canadian dream pop quintet, co-headlined with Turnover at Emos on Wednesday night. Emma Proulx stood center stage on guitar, wearing an oversized taupe trench coat and her blonde hair pulled back in a dutch braid. The rest of the band, all hip men, horseshoed around her. The crowd greets the band with a hardy Texas welcome, and Emma Proulx’s soft sweet canadian accent sounds almost too delicate and beautiful to exist.

 

The band is punctual and well-rehearsed, achieving a neat and clean sound that’s also sexy. Although the band is modestly dressed, their sound is as sensual as it is mellow. Songs like “Show Me How” could be the soundtrack to losing your virginity on prom night. But remember, this is dream pop, so this is dream prom (that isn’t lame) and the dream mood is scarves over lampshades and hot candle wax. The notes fall and linger while her words crawl up the back of your neck, “show me how you care/ tell me how you were loved before/ show me how you smile/ tell me why your hands are cold.”

 

Tunes like, “You Deserve This,” keep the mellow mood smooth and groovy, complemented by the soft disco dance undercurrents of the next song, “Tailwhip.” For this tune, Emma jams with Jessy on bass, their instruments facing each other and the sounds audibly bouncing off one another and throughout the venue. This is the intangible, intimate magic of music because at this point, duh, the audience lost it with hoots, hollers, and yelps. Someone even collapsed at the left side bar - woah, mad whammy skills.

 

As much as I wished they played hits like “Seven” or “Lauren”, I also admire them for not. It leaves me thirsty for more of their music, and it conveys their confidence as a band. They’re not limited to their hits. Their new release from this year, Once Jazz, boasts 24 songs, some new and old rerecorded. All of their music is self-released which gives this dream pop band a punk edge. 

 

- Mel Green

Levitiation: Emma Ruth Rundle Bangs Heavy Folk at Empire

  

 

From one night to the other during Levitation, the scene at Empire tonight feels drastically different but also the same. It’s still dark but dark rock, instead of dark wave dance, as Empire hosts a ticket of Sargent House Presents.

 

Emma Ruth Rundle is the penultimate performance of the indoor stage. The psychedelic grayscale light illustrations blanket over her body and guitar while the autumn breeze blows in feathering her bangs. Her silhouette is reminiscent of a young Stevie Nicks but her sound is uniquely her own. While the other bands of the evening fall on the heavy side of the spectrum, Rundle finds herself between metal and ethereal. Her voice soars from her trachea like a free bird or prey as she plays the goth folk anthem, “Shadows of My Name.”

 

The vibe of the night pivots beneath an undercurrent of rock as the heavy pull of her guitar and the war drum cadence of “Fever Dreams” spellbinds the audience into an amorphous bobbing of heads and knocking of knees. The subsequent song “Darkhorse” from her 2018 album, On Dark Horses, closes the set and seals the venue in a new covenant. With fests every weekend in Austin, one might forget that this is fucking Levitation fest and not just a regular Friday night on 7th street. The covenant of Emma Ruth Rundle makes this evening at Empire a timeless place of memory blessed by the deities of goth folk n roll in which we can return. Levitation isn’t every weekend, but you can still levitate daily and harness the residual energy and adrenaline of the festival.

 

-Mel Green

Levitation: Kurt Vile Puts Austin in a Daze

  

Kurt Vile takes the stage at Stubbs casually and cool. His presence is always welcome in Austin, looking like someone you might bump into at the grocery store in Hyde Park with his long dark hair in his face and disheveled plaid shirt. His last show in town was December 2018 at Moody Theatre. The set list is similar to the last show here, playing mostly songs off his 2018 album Bottle It In, but it’s always refreshing to float along with his on and on lyricism and dreamy chord progressions.

The band opens the show with “Loading Zones.” Vile stakes his position as “a mayor of some godforsaken town.” The song’s story builds up to a repeated mantra: “I park for free,” because, yes, parking for free is the defining perk and achievement of political office. Imagine parking for free in Austin…I wonder if you can. 

There’s not much chat between songs as the band mellowly eases into each song. Of course, the audience lost it and sang along when Vile played “Pretty Pimpin’,” the hit that earned him significant cred back in 2015.

Wakin’ On a Pretty Day” - the 10 minute ballad of loafing and loving on a pretty day - would have been the highlight of the show if not for the encore featuring the guitar player of Dinosaur Jr. Clouds of smoke puff into the dark atmosphere above, and the audience bobs and sways as Vile’s mumbly articulation of the song draws you into a new state of day: “Wakin’ on a pretty day, don’t know why I ever go away. It’s hard to explain my love in this daze.” Try playing this song first thing in the morning and just see what happens - maybe you’ll have a pretty daze, whatever that looks like for you.

Vile and the band brought up J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr to encore with the song of “Hunchback,” from Vile’s 2009 album Childish Prodigy. It was a playful, dreamy song to close the weekend of shows at Stubbs, with both grown men singing about being hunchbacks “floppin an flippin around like fish on the street/floppin an flippin around like a fish along the sand.” 

The band exits the stage, the stage lights come on and the crew starts breaking down. Some of the crowd will go off to the last of the Levitation shows, but some will go home and get ready for a return to their subjective reality. Levitation is its own reality for scenes and subcultures of Austin, and the Fest was an excuse to show up, look hot, and hear great music.

- Mel Green

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