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Show Review Crush: The Soft Pack, The Subjects, Brontosaur, and Thick Shakes at ME Up 10/3

October 6, 2009

So my Show Going Friend Lindsay and I had seen The Soft Pack open for White Lies back in March and, when I told her they were passing through again, she wanted to come – we remembered liking them, remembered her saying something vaguely groupie-ish while swigging bourbon from a flask at March’s show. She came along with me last Saturday to see them at the Middle East Upstairs along with her roommate Joe, a man in an LA Kings jersey who got more than one compliment on the shirt that night.

First up were locals Thick Shakes from JP. From the get-go, Lindsay and I really dug them. The girl singer seemed to sound a bit like Nancy Sinatra, circa “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” While Lindsay got grossed out by the guitarist’s bleeding finger spritzing a thin layer of blood along the body of his guitar (see the photo to the left I stole off their MySpace), I couldn’t help but see the vague martyrdom in it. They reminded me of some kind of surf rock meeting very cool 70s rock and roll, the kind of rock and roll that set the tone for the punk that came after it. It was simple but contrived in a good way, even though Lindsay’s roommate Joe let on while we smoked cigarettes after their set that they seemed “indulgent.” But, though the crowd was thin, they seemed to agree with Lindsay and I in our new-found fandom.
Loved you, Thick Shakes. I did.

Next up was Brontosaur. They were the darling boys sitting at their merch booth with under-age x’s grazing the backs of their hands. And some girls batting their eyes for those boys to come on-stage. And once on stage, they were the band with a drummer that reminded me of my little brother. Lindsay, too. We shouted to one another that this band’s drummer was our respective little brother’s doppelganger.
As far as their sound? Listen. Brontosaur made this show for me. Their singer had this wonderful Modest Mouse speak-sing vibe, more yelling than singing, but it worked for them – he had an understanding of inflection and tempo. This was the kind of band I’ll be bragging about having seen way back when once they start selling out bigger venues. Lindsay complimented their singer outside after their set, sighing under her breath, “One little girl on the sidewalk believes in you!” And her roommate Joe – said the $10 cover was worth it after having seen them.

Next up? The Subjects. Hello, background music. Sorry, boys from Brooklyn. My friends and I dug the heavy extra floor tom methodically beat on by an extra member, but before we knew it, we were talking over you – your beginning songs were boring, mostly folky but trying to be dancey and it wasn’t working. By mid-set, though, Subjects got their groove back and accomplished what they seemed to start from the beginning – sort of a rocky folk meets dance pop and, man, it finally got pretty good.

And finally! The Soft Pack! I was excited to see a band I’d originally liked, that was getting a lot of good comments from both press and friends of mine out in California. They started strong, the crowd at Middle East Up really seeming to dig them, my friends and I included. But with every strong song beginning, I grew bored by the end. Maybe it was repetitious? I was expecting to tap my feet, shuffle around, do a little shimmy to all their songs, but I ended up thinking that maybe I’d liked them so much back in March because of whatever was in Show Going Friend Lindsay’s flask. I’m not saying they were bad – they weren’t – they were punky and surfy and the essence of California rock and roll – but it seemed like the Massachusetts bands that preceded them showed ’em up.

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One Comment
  1. that guitar almost made me lose my lunch.

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