Review: The Coathangers, Killmama, & Wet Nurse at Will’s Pub Orlando, Saturday, February 4th
Will’s Pub filled up just prior to Orlando’s own Wet Nurse beginning their set, rocking an upbeat punk/pop vibe. The four piece band, fronted by two lead vocalists, sisters Nina and Susana, offered an unusually harmonious brand of punk. After a false start, they launched into songs like “Girl Problem,” which rocked a 60s surf rock tempo and a melodic bassline, and the slower paced, melancholic “Belly Hurts”.
Nina jammed on her guitar while drinking a beer between songs. At one point she slid the neck of her guitar repeatedly against the mic stand for an interesting effect.
They ended on their song “Vacation,” a hard edge jammer started off by Susana that ends with her screaming “everyone out of my way”. Sounds like at least one band member drives the way I do…
Wet Nurse effectively opened the show with a fun raucous start, but nothing about what what I just saw of Wet Nurse and I know of the Coathangers prepared me for what came next. I walked back into Will’s Pub after smoking outside. On stage were the two members of Killmama, both completely still. A man (Rob Kingsley) standing with a guitar slung over his shoulder and a woman (Sophie Sputnik) sitting behind the drum kit with her long dark hair entirely covering her face. Immediately, I was intrigued and then they moved and out of this drop-dead gorgeous woman came a soulful voice accompanied by the harried beating of drums and the soaring notes of the guitar.
Sophie’s powerhouse voice amplified behind her hair as she continued to play with her face obscured for the first few songs. Launching into drum solos and from one song to the next with barely a pause. I was completely blown away. It wasn’t quite punk that they were playing. Instead the music informed a Venn diagram of everything I love in music, a heavy, loud 2-piece band steeped in Blues, Rock n Roll, Punk, and 60s soul all mixed in with Sophie’s voice running the gamut from sophisticated Rhythm & Blues diva to hardcore raucous rage queen without hesitation. (I haven’t stopped listening to their EP currently on iTunes now since the show.)
Finally the duo relented the pace and paused to let Sophie introduce a “song about heavy things like hippos and homicide”. Starting off almost acapella with Sophie singing and Rob playing sparse notes on the guitar. Then the bass drum kicked in and the bluesy, riff laden “Heavy” began in earnest. This lead into “Hey America,” another blues tinged song that slowly moved into a rock n roll vibe when Sophie’s voice shifted from plaintive wail to her whipping her hair around behind the kit.
From the beginning of their set, I wouldn’t have expected the playfulness Sophie employed when she switched on the smoke machine, struck a power rock pose and then did a short country ditty where I swear she just sang “bam a lam” over and over in a country twang. She was clad in a plain white t-shirt, black leggings and doc martens, looking every bit the part of a tour hardened, musician, which was totally in contrast when she spun around the mic stand to unwrap the mic cord.
The playfulness continued when they asked for a volunteer from the audience to play drums on the next song. The crowd seemed reluctant until a guy in a beanie climbed on stage, beer in hand, and made his way unsteadily to the drum kit. Rob helped him find the beat for “Bad Rep”. Sophie maintained her place at the mic while Rob shredded the guitar behind her and Beanie Guy blearily beat the drums. This was a great gimmick and once the song was over Beanie Guy didn’t seem to want to leave the stage, but as Sophie regained her place behind the drum kit, he eventually gave it up and wandered back into the crowd.
They then launched into “Please Don’t Go,” where Sophie held a long note and then pretended to cough in the middle of it before finishing it flawlessly. After their set, I talked to Sophie and bought her second favorite Killmama shirt from their merch table. She was really sweet and revealed that she grew up not too far from me in South Florida.
The Coathangers carried up their own equipment to the stage signaling the beginning of their set. All three members clad in their “Nosebleed Weekend” t-shirts. Rusty took her place behind the drum kit decorated with a blonde plastic lady mask and asked in her husky voice for the lights to be made “sexier”. Once the lights were dimmed, Crook Kid started into “Johnny”.
Then they played “Down Down” with Rusty’s voice ringing out raspier than usual from behind the drum kit. The uptempo song merged into a pit spinner before returning to the more mellow melody again to calm things down. By the third song the pit opened up in full force with Crook Kid screaming out the lines “what you did or what you said” from “Watch Your Back”.Rusty called out the name of the next song “I Don’t Think So” and they went right into it.
Rusty stopped the music to comment that “the pit is getting a little violent”. Explaining that she’s a mom and is used to being the bad guy. She encouraged the crowd to calm it down to no avail. The members of Wet Nurse were some of the most gleeful offenders with Nina stage diving into the audience and cannon balling her way through any passive audience members. She worked hard to get everyone riled up. Standing just on the edge of the pit, I successfully fended off all but two blows. One from my friend Sean who in trying to protect me from a guy hurtling unsteadily at me, elbowed me right in the sternum and another random blow that caught me in the ribs and briefly winded me. The minor adrenaline rush only enhanced the show.
Crook Kid kept it interesting on stage with a series of animal like calls and cries, while some white woman yelled up at her that, “White men don’t belong in the pit”. Rusty responded to her with “We’re gonna keep playing. Y’all do whatever you want.”
The crowd calmed down for “Make It Right,” but the pit persisted even through the mellower punk of “Nosebleed Weekend”. Then the band played musical chairs, quite literally, as Rusty and Crook Kid changed places with Rusty picking up the guitar to crank out “Shut Up”. Then Rusty and Minnie switched places while Minnie performed the song “Nestle In My Boobies” accompanied by just bass and drums. A playful song that Minnie sang with hilarious abandon.
Then Minnie booted Crook Kid back to her place at the front of the stage with the guitar and Rusty rocked out the vocals on another song. Rusty yelled into the mic at one point “I don’t like you,” which just made the crowd cheer. She then walked it back by saying, “It’s the end of the night and we’ve fallen in love.”
They ended the show with “Squeeki Tiki,” a song which features an actual squeaky toy played by Crook Kid. The band lined up outside and exchanged pleasantries with the fans for a while. I talked to Rusty and Minnie to tell them it was an awesome show. All the band members were super nice and approachable and despite the overzealous pit, I think they all had a great time performing for us.