LIVE REVIEW: The Soft Pack @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC 9/10/10
While waiting around before the show started on Friday, I was looking around feeling genuinely puzzled by the abundance of suspiciously clean-looking younger guys wearing plaid button-up shirts. Where were all the older bearded freaks wearing dirty tank tops with their beer guts hanging out? Who were all of these younger drunk girls walking around, and what did they do with the mid-to-late 20s hipsters wearing grandma dresses that usually frequent these kinds of venues?
Oh, right! This isn’t a summer crowd anymore; New York colleges are back in session, and the NYU set was out in full force at The Soft Pack’s Friday night show at the Bowery Ballroom. For some reason this particular crowd went nuts over the opener, Brooklyn-based Beach Fossils, who were kind of cute but also seemed way too jaded for being such a new act; their songs came out sounding pretty good, sure, but for most of the set they seemed tired or bored with the act of performing. It was only in their last moments that they gathered up enough gusto to match their dancing fans, with lead singer Dustin Payseur unexpectedly plunging himself into the audience on their final song.
Luckily the Soft Pack had a mind for fun, with the band delivering a much more energetic and lively performance. Though they looked the part of the countless Smith-reincarnations sprouting up all over the universe these days, their sound (though nothing particularly innovative) was a lot more bouncy and upbeat, making it easy to see why all of the partying kids that came to the show were dancing so hard the entire time.
Though the music was decent overall, the vacant-eyed singer Matt Lamkin’s vocals were often drowned out by the rest of the band, making it hard to pay attention to that aspect of the Soft Pack’s music but also making it impossible to ignore just how good guitarist Matty McLaughlin is.Â For the entire set McLaughlin never failed to impress, sending out quick rays of sunny, poppy notes with an unrivaled vigor during the songs, and taking the time to talk to and joke with the audience in between. Dancing around, spinning and jumping up in the air â€“ he did it all charismatically, all while delivering the best and brightest sounds that the band had to offer.
If you never make it to a Soft Pack show, you probably won’t be missing anything you haven’t really heard before in one way or another from another band. However, if you’re into their style–and judging by the super-psyched crowd, a lot of people are–they’ll give you a pretty good time should you ever make it out to see them live.
Photos by Hailey Desjardins