The Soft Pack @ Rickshaw Stop 1/28/2010
The Soft Pack show at the Rickshaw Stop on Thursday night brought me back to when I was a young punk. Not because I was surrounded by kids pounding Sparks outside of the venue, which is to be expected from any good Pop Scene show, and not because I was up late on a weekday, which has a whole new set of concerns now that I’m old. No, it was the music that made me feel like a kid again. The sound was gritty, the songs were short and the crowd was rockin’. While The Soft Pack doesn’t necessarily bring a new sound to the table, they certainly bring new life to a style that was lost somewhere in the decline of grunge and punk in the 90s. Aside from a few relics of the genre, punk and garage bands have been confined to obscure venues around the city like Thee Parkside and The Knockout, so it’s refreshing to see a young group rise up by doing nothing more than blasting through a set of 13 high energy rock songs in no more than 30 minutes, much like the old days of punk.
The Rickshaw was the perfect setting for The Soft Pack’s brand of retro garage rock, being much like a garage itself. The crowd eagerly packed to the front, many excited to see the band for the second time this week after watching them open for Phoenix at the Fillmore and others stoked to see them for the first time, like me. After the first minute of their show, there was no question that Soft Pack is an unapologetic garage rock band as guitarist Matty McLoughlin broke a string and put the show on momentary hiatus as he scrambled to restring on stage. Again in true garage rock fashion his efforts were to no avail and a kind soul from the audience (which I’m pretty sure was Jon from The Hundred Days) lent him a guitar and the show went on. He later broke a string on that guitar, taking lead singer Matt’s guitar and leaving him to focus solely on vocals. It just goes to show how hard they rock. The band blasted through their debut album (due out on Feb. 2); their 7″s and a few new songs keeping the crowd moving the whole time.
Gone are the days of AFI at the Phoenix and Green Day at the Gilman, but the spirit and energy of the times is not lost. If you’re longing for the days of fast, loud rock in a small venue with an enthusiastic crowd, then I suggest you keep an eye out for the next time The Soft Pack is in town. Though with the trajectory that these guys are on, there may not be many more chances to see them in this capacity.