The Pack a.d. makes a jaw-dropping statement at the Rickshaw
The Pack a.d. can argue all they want on Twitter that they aren’t the coolest band, but they are definitely cooler than you.
At the Rickshaw Theatre on Saturday, January 28, 2012
Even though Vancouver had plenty of time to get prepared for what unfolded at the Rickshaw on Saturday, it’s not an exaggeration to suggest no one saw this one coming. Somewhere along the line, the Pack a.d. made the leap from a pretty damn good band to an insanely great one.
Four months after the release of its fourth and latest album, Unpersons, the two-piece made up of singer-guitarist Becky Black and drummer Maya Miller finally threw a local album-release party. Proving that some things are indeed worth waiting for, the sold-out show generated enough advance buzz to become a bona-fide event. If you somehow ended up with an extra ticket, there was no shortage of desperate takers outside the venue.
With the pressure on, the Pack a.d. used its first major headlining show in Vancouver to make a jaw-dropping statement. When the smoke finally cleared it was hard to tell who was more drained: the band or the PBR-liquored fans sardine-canned on the dance floor.
The night made a few things crystal clear, chief among them being that Black and Miller are a team in every sense of the word. You want showmanship? You had to look no further than Miller, who has obviously figured out that the last thing people want to see from a duo is a timekeeper who sits there like a Sominexed Meg White. By the night’s second number, the chugging “Cobra Matte”, she had a mile-wide smirk on her face, each hit of the snare drum administered with a wildly cartoonish, robo-monkey wallop.
Miller also understands the often-overlooked importance of in-between-songs banter. And by banter, we’re not talking tired pronouncements like “This one’s off our new album.” As the band’s unofficial emcee, she’s funny in an endearingly self-deprecating way, filling the gaps between numbers with things like “That was a song that we do. We’re going to try and play another one that we play.”
A winning mix of detached cool and Joan Jett swagger, Black gave her drummer plenty of help. The singer was a one-woman wrecking crew, whether ripping through the ozone-crackle “Haunt You” with a snarling ferocity, or stalking the stage like a heart-full-of-napalm panther for “Rid of Me”.
The Pack a.d. came out firing with songs pulled from their two most recent albums, Unpersons and we kill computers, both of which have found the group moving away from its garage-blues beginnings. Ironically, though, it was when the band dragged things back to the Delta that things officially caught fire. Halfway through the howling exorcism that was “Don’t Have to Like You”, it was like Black suddenly flicked a lit match onto a lake of gasoline, the audience roaring its awe-struck approval, the band responding by stomping hard on the accelerator.
Impossibly, the human blur that was Black actually seemed to get more amped with each passing song. The guitarist finished the encore number “Cabin” triumphantly perched on top of Miller’s kit, the two bandmates beaming like they’d just conquered the world. Or, more accurately, kicked the ass of a city which, even though it’s had plenty of warning over the past half-decade, likely never saw the Pack a.d. coming. Here’s sincere condolences if you weren’t there, because, as parties go, this one was a fucking rager.
Mike Usinger – The Georgia Straight
… a fantastically gritty rock duo.
- NPR’s All Songs Considered
Vancouver’s The Pack A.D. shove bare-boned guitar and drum rock – full of sweat-soaked anger and anthemic blues riffs – back into the garage where it belongs. Theirs is a primal, beat ‘n’ fuzz attack best handled by a duo. Noisy twosomes are all the rage, but when the perpetrators are of the female variety, attention must be paid.
- Ottawa XPress
Unpersons is stripped-down, high-dudgeon garage from two pissed-off gals trying to hold onto a shred of their humanity in 21st-century America.
- Pop Matters
Hard-hitting garage isn’t what we usually expect from our neighbors up north, but Canadian duo Pack A.D.has refused to let up. On their fourth album and as gritty and intoxicating as ever, Maya Miller and Becky Black pound punk and garage rock into a fuzzy pulp. “Sirens” lures you in with that feminine snarl and keeps you planted until the drums have burned solidly through your skull. Strap-in and grab Unpersons September 13 on Mint.”
- RCRD LBL
Sometimes you just gotta let ‘er rip. Duo Maya Miller and Becky Black sure fuckin’ do. For the first few seconds of this song you think you’re listening to the opening of Black Sabbath. But, no. These Vancouver rockers might have borrowed the vibe, but they’re their own studded leather jacket and snarling upper lip, m’kay?
Vancouver duo of garage ladypunks’ stellar tits-to-the-wall blues rock just gets better and better as they ease up on pop and double down on thrash snarl.
- Philadelphia Weekly (Unpersons review)
For a more aggressive hipster barbecue, with possible violence, grab The Pack A.D.’s “Sirens”
Picked up on this black-as-oil nugget over at yvynyl a couple of days ago, and I’ve been meaning to get it up on this here blog as quickly as possible. The Pack A.D. is releasing its fourth full length, Unpersons, via Mint Records in September. “Sirens” is the lead track for the album, and it’s a punch to the face. Who needs a morning java when black boots and snarling power chords can peel back your eyelids for you? The riffs in this track are stout and aggressive, and Becky Black could bring blight to a ripening field with her dark, smoky owl hoots and attitude. The duo has grown with each release, and the aural explosion that this track alludes to has to be nothing short of spectacular. We’ve written about Brooklyn’s The Vandelles quite a bit here, and this is in a similar arena, but with a more Sabbath-like darkened veil over top. You probably don’t want to miss this one.
“One of the Year’s Nastiest rock albums”
- Ben Rayner, Toronto Star (Unpersons review 3 1/2 out of 4)
“Lord almighty, do they rock – in a gritty, unhinged, kind-of frightening manner”
- Ben Rayner, Toronto Star
If you don’t want your guitar-and-drums garage-blues-punk duo to be constantly compared to the White Stripes, maybe don’t say that in your press release. Or at the very least, don’t hire the Stripes’ former producer, Jim Diamond. Luckily, Vancouver rockers the Pack A.D. are good enough to transcend that hard-to-avoid reference point. If you’ve ever caught them on tour, you’ll be pleased to find out that the new album finally captures their live show’s brute volume and power. Recording as a duo is a delicate balance between capturing that inherent minimalism and taking advantage of the studio to make things sound as big as possible. On Unpersons, the Pack A.D. pull it off perfectly. Guitarist/vocalist Becky Black has come into her own as a singer, and her soulful shouting is the highlight. She can pull her weight on guitar, too, but the more overt punk vibe leaves less room for guitar heroics than before. She does, however, lay down some gloriously nasty fuzz tones that more than make up for the lack of noodling.
- Now Magazine ( unpersons review, 4 out of 5)
The Pack A.D. doesn’t dull their edge, they sharpen it. The songs on Unpersons are more focused and deliberate. They say and accomplish more in their restraint but keep their attitude and stay just as fun.
- The Lancer – University of Windsor