The Coathangers

It was a wet and dreary evening in San Diego when Spooky Cigarette showed up to the sold-out Casbah to check out The Coathangers.

The five piece, filled with musicians involved in multiple local bands and side projects, is fronted by Frank Mindingall. He’s both the keyboardist and the humble mastermind behind Spooky.

Spooky Cigarette

Frank wrote the tracks on last year’s debut EP As Loud As I Can, subtly tackling issues like race and sexuality in the lyrics. Their sound blends genres of new wave, synth pop and even the stereotypical San Diego surf/garage rock sound. It strikes me as incredibly self-aware. Even the name Spooky Cigarette is a subtle clever pun; “spook” being the derogatory word for a black person and “fag” being British slang for a cigarette.

The guys realized they found their niche when teenagers started showing up to their shows singing all the lyrics. They decided to take Spooky more seriously.

We huddled under raindrops and the red light, passing cigarettes and talking about burrito sauce, taco spots and abandoned sandwiches on the trolley.

The band members seem so different, each having a unique take on taco sauce, yet it’s easy to see why this combination works.

Jakob McWhinney, the guitarist, passionately talked politics, planning events and ways to get young people to take more political action. “Things have been rough since Drumpf got elected,” he said. Pepe Gonzalez, the keyboardist and guitarist, discussed the San Diego music scene, summing it up in one word: “weird”. “It’s pretty cut throat here and hard to get shows sometimes. That’s why we’ve turned to the D.I.Y. house show circuit, which is working out.”

Skylar Eppler, the drummer wearing a Game of Thrones pin, shared about how his seven-year-old daughter is getting used to herself on the cover of local publications. And Daniel Gallo, the bassist, recounted the hilarious story of his first concert: Mana in Tijuana when he was 10 years old. “My mom, my aunts, all the ladies in the crowd were throwing their bras on stage. Weed was going around. It was wild.”

We got out of the rain and watched Los Angeles band Zig Zags slay through metal head-bangers, reminiscent of Metallica. Last up was The Coathangers, the badass Atlanta trio that ripped and rocked, sounding tighter and more together than ever. They played new songs off last year’s Nosebleed Weekend and even treated us to an encore of a track off their 2007 debut album, “Don’t Touch My Shit”.

A portion of the bar proceeds went to Planned Parenthood, which felt very appropriate. Thanks to the Pabst Music Society for supporting musicians in San Diego and elsewhere.

Spooky Cigarette is nominated for Best New Artist in the San Diego Music Awards. Vote for them now until March 21st here.

Review By: Amanda Martinek
Photos by: Minivan Photography (David Evanko)