Different Name, Same Band

October 5th, 2009

The Soft Pack – The Bowery Ballroom – October 2, 2009

the Soft Pack

After recently changing its name from the Muslims to something even more nondescript, the Soft Pack opened its Friday-night set at The Bowery Ballroom playing “Right and Wrong” at breakneck speed. Lead vocalist Matt Lamkin sang with his usual cool, emotionless detachment as he stared out over everyone’s heads into the back of the room. The band’s raw back-to-basics rock is a serious business, and Lamkin focused on his measured pitch with a defiant punch: “Hey all you killers/ Hey, hey/ Why don’t you all just call it a day.” What Lamkin suppresses, the rest of the band makes up for in pure sweat ethic. He was forever bent over the guitar, straining to keep pace with Brian Hill, who stood behind his drum kit, pounding out ordered rhythms. The idea seemed to be to get real leverage on the snare and single tall tom, all while stomping out the kick drum. He was visibly exhausted when they finished “Future Rock.”

The Soft Pack has been able to make short work of smaller venues, ascending to The Bowery Ballroom on the strength of just two EPs and a couple of singles. Answering any questions regarding whether the group could continue to pull off its catchy, post-punk sound, the Soft Pack unleashed new tracks “Answer to Yourself” and “Pull Out” with Lamkin’s naturally irregular melodic style and barbed lyric edge to rival the subversive hit “Nightlife.” Proving that a band name is nothing more than what you become known as, the guys in Soft Pack are determined to let the only thing that matters ultimately determine their fate: the music. —Jason Dean