Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Soft Pack - Union Pool 1-17-09

'Alright,.... we're the Soft Pack.'
And with that the Muslims were no more.
The consensus overheard at Union Pool bar was 'What's the difference? It was a shitty name to begin with so who cares if you change a shitty name to a shitty name.'
Well, kind of. I mean, I've said it before, it makes no difference with these guys, just whatever name you want, let it stick already. There's already been so much great press surrounding them, I wonder what it's like to have to start over to some degree. People aren't going to be looking for the Soft Pack online.... how many records have already been pressed?...it must be a weird situation.
It's the case of taking a nothing name and making it fit. How many bands really sound like terrible names....forget animal names, that's a given, they are middle of the road at this point but Pavement? Boring. The Pixies? Are you kidding? It won't matter anyway, the content overrides whatever they end up with.

It was crowded as hell, sold out and packed to the fire code limit. I thought 'Ok the days of seeing them live with a crowd of maybe twenty in some tiny venue are done.' This is even probably the last time they play Union Pool. If they can draw a crowd like this on a freezing January night then I'm losing all hope in having the experiences I've been having, selfishly keeping them to myself.

One difference live that still gets me is their apathetic attitude on the recorded tracks, that kind of borderline monotone delivery, the so simple it's deceptively effortless playing. It's trying to be unaware in a natural way. Like they've done it a million times. You'd expect this to carry over into some kind of lazy performance. Like they are too good for you...and the pathetic crowd they're playing for.
But if there's one thing they care insanely about more than their name, more than onstage banter, more than a persona, is that they really give a shit about the music.

In all the live shows I've seen, they are only getting better, playing with more energy, still having as much fun with this material as I am listening to it every day.
I would have seriously been kicking myself if I missed this. It was crazy cold and I debated walking down the street. What's wrong with me?

With Matty, the guitarist you can visibly see his struggle to maintain that perfect sound -- he's fighting that guitar every performance, he just doesn't see any other way to play it. He's not going to let a half ass chord get away.
Matt of course is expressionless, he's got this character that's just pointing out the situations around him, the simple monotonous struggle.... in every song. Live everything is punched up faster, harder...making the set that much shorter, but they can't help but be propelled by the momentum.

It especially sucked they didn't play an encore...the people were calling for it. This wasn't Terminal 5, where we get an encore no matter what 1 minute after the band leaves the stage. The hits held back to play now, what we wanted to hear in the first place. But then this isn't that band. They came to blow the back out of Union Pool and they did it. What's left? They're spent.

After changing all the 'Muslims' to 'Soft Pack' in this post I'm having trouble getting used to it. They are still the Muslims to me for now.

I thought I got there in time to see 'The Browns' but instead 'Those Darlins' played second. I hate hating a band but it seems the Darlins PR and press quotes are more important than the music for these 3 Tennessee women who can reasonably play, but half heartedly sell songs and honkey tonk attitudes about whisky and horses...it just doesn't do it for me. They belong in a Quentin Tarantino movie...a stereotype of the neo-west. Ridiculous.

MP3 download of the show here...(it's far from perfect, they are loud as hell and even in my pocket my ipod mic is all blown out, heavily compressed 34min)

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