08 June, 2008

Plexi 3, Feeling of Love, The Strange Boys, The Coathangers @ The Drunken Unicorn

Atlanta's favourite room with a stage, The Drunken Unicorn, welcomed four similar bands from four very different places Saturday night. The show was a send-off of sorts for The Coathangers as they embark on a month long voyage across the country beginning June 9th in Nashville. As is the norm for the Unicorn, doors opened when they felt like it (which turned out to be just before 10pm). Still, this is my personal favourite venue in Atlanta. It's very intimate, kind of a dive, has cheap drinks, and you never know what's going to happen until events unfold.

The first band of the evening was Plexi 3 (pictured above), an indie punk outift from Milwaukee. The band doesn't know how to write a song over three minutes long, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Composed of guitarist and lead vocalist Wendy Norton, bassist and backing vocalist Adam Widener, and drummer Ryan King, the band blistered through a set of raw powerpop anthems. Wendy possesses a good stage presence, and the band has a tight-knit and playful overall chemistry. Due to the unforeseen circumstance of their tour van breaking down a couple of blocks away, Ryan was forced to use The Coathangers' drum kit, a small nuisance he handled well with only a few anchoring problems with the kick drum (thank you random concrete block conveniently placed onstage). Standout songs performed included "Calculated Romance", "Perfect Stranger", "We Know Better", and "Stabbing Fantasies". Overall, the band put on a very fun show that I recommend to any fan of well-executed punk. To hear for yourself and find out where they are playing in a city near you, go to their MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/plexi3. Here's hoping they make it out of Atlanta in one piece to continue spreading the love.

Plexi 3 Overall Performance Rating (out of 5): 3.5

Next up were Feeling of Love. Hailing from Metz, France, the three-piece sports a very loud and dissonant brand of punk with a dose of blues injected for good measure. The group plays without a bass, relying on guitar, drums, and keys to carry the load. Whilst freely swilling Wild Turkey, their set began well enough. An interesting added dimension was provided by the drummer and keyboardist's use of maracas that somehow withstood the punishment dealt out during the performance. Speaking of destruction, Feeling of Love also made use of The Coathangers' kick drum, and to say that the piece was in jeopardy of annihilation is an understatement. As their set progressed, songs tended to drag out and all sound the same at a certain point though. One explanation for the weirdness could be that, like most continental European rock bands, they translate their songs into English for a wider appeal. And to be French in Atlanta without good conversational English n'est pas une bonne chose.

Feeling of Love Overall Performance Rating: 1.5

Austin, Texas band The Strange Boys took the stage at just before midnight. Worshippers of both roots rock legends like Bo Diddley (R.I.P.) and Buddy Holly as well as early Britpop pioneers The Kinks, the band puts on a captivating show. Head Strange Boy Ryan Sambol has a lazy but effective muttering vocal style to match his perpetually sleep-deprived look and a propensity for the occassional guitar shredding moment. Lead guitarist Greg Enlow, bassist Phillip Sambol, and drummer Matt Hammer round out the lineup. While the band's sound is a bit of a throwback to old-fashioned rhythm & blues, it manages to simultaneously be ultra-modern in its punkish exuberance. Songs of note included in their set were "This Girl Taught Me a Dance", "Probation Blues", "Art for Art's Sake", and two new songs "Woe Is You and Me" and "Baby Please Don't Go". While not the headliners, The Strange Boys managed to steal the show and engaged the entire crowd throughout their performance, including The Coathangers with whom they are good friends and touring buddies. To hear some tunes for yourself, see where you can catch them in person, and buy their Nothing EP, visit http://www.myspace.com/thestrangeboys.

The Strange Boys Overall Performance Rating: 4.0

The Coathangers (pictured on right) wrapped up the night with a set that failed to do them justice. Better to do it in front of friends I suppose before hitting the road. Not taking the stage until almost 1AM, "Rusty Coathanger", the band's drummer and part-time vocalist, managed to be sufficiently inebriated by performance time. Things were made more difficult for her by the setlist that highlighted many songs in which she is the primary vocalist. She did manage to make it through the set, but was visibly laboured and not even close to full strength. The rest of the band managed to pick up as much of the slack as possible and lessen the load. The show was still pretty fun though, and of course the girls traded instruments several times, a trademark of theirs. The band also likes to use crowd props, and this show was no exception as they passed out "Happy New Year's" party hats and paper whistles (no real explanation, just go with it). Some of the surfy electro-punk offerings for the night included "Tonya Harding", "Wreckless Boy", a now common alternate version of "Nestle in My Boobies" reworked as "Dancing With My Cutie", a new song "Killdozer", and the traditional set-closer "Don't Touch My Shit". The band does normally put on a very fun, engaging, and exhaustive show that pleases the crowd, so if you get a chance I do recommend checking them out for yourself. Their current tour will take them to exotic places like Hot Springs, Arkansas, Wichita, Kansas, and Lafayette, Indiana, as well as Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago before returning to Georgia to play the Athens PopFest in August.

The Coathangers Overall Performance Rating: 2.5

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