The Coughs, a bottom-of-the-barrel noise sextet, were drawn to one another two years ago by their mutual lack of musical skill or experience. Enthusiasm has won out over ineptitude, however, and at this point they don't sound sloppy so much as unhinged. On their self-released Bent Babies EP, the sax squeals when it shouldn't, and guitar and bass lines are just openhanded slapping; a few songs seem to be scored for pots, pans, and alarm clock, and there's a dull atonal wash over all the tracks. But Anya Davidson's banshee howls and death-metal growls add a touch of holy-shit-these-people-are-scary, and eventually it becomes clear that when it comes to structure they have a pretty good idea of what they're doing. Live they're a force: Davidson and James Flanagan, the sax player, roam through the audience like red-faced zombies, screaming and blowing within an inch of busting their diaphragms, ramming into bodies, stepping on toes, and generally freaking people out. The Coughs are also probably the worst-dressed band in town, wearing stuff most of us would be too embarrassed to give away to Goodwill. Obviously they don't care about much except having fun annoying the hell out of everyone, but their victims don't seem too victimized; the crowds at Coughs shows I've been to have been stocked with either masochists or connoisseurs of bad taste. You know if you fit the profile. Friday, August 29, 10 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton; 773-486-2700.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Scott Lyne.