The Pack a.d. makes a jaw-dropping statement at the Rickshaw

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      At the Rickshaw Theatre on Saturday, January 28

      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.


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      Yer Momma

      Jan 30, 2012 at 3:15pm

      To paraphrase a quote from George Harrison's cameo on the Simpsons, "It's not bad, but it's been done." Yet another swing and a miss from Mr. "I Only Like Shit that Sounds Like Shit I've Already Heard." Usinger: you are the very essence of a hack.

      Cr. U.

      Jan 30, 2012 at 3:45pm

      This paper is so predictable in the garbage they claim to like. Anything hip and supposedly underground. I've seen this band. They are horrible. It's time the GS hired some new writers who aren't afraid of looking uncool by writing honestly.

      cranky mom

      Jan 30, 2012 at 4:30pm

      Hey Cr. U, I bet you r a genius in your own mind. Horrible? Clearly u were not there. Therefore you must be one of those women haters.

      From the moment the ladies step on stage they rocked the fuck out of everyone. You would have thought there were five people on stage, not two.

      I really wish people like you would just stfu.


      Jan 30, 2012 at 5:56pm

      I didn't really like them much but after that show I'll be paying more attention.


      Jan 30, 2012 at 7:02pm

      pack should have opened for pierced arrows - nuff said


      Jan 30, 2012 at 8:34pm

      hearing pierced arrows for the first time was f'n cool, i came fer the pack, and left happy with the night as a whole.
      being from the burbs, and working a 9-5 blue collar job and having to hear nothing but top 40 radio. This was a great escape for me on a saturday. Reading the hate from the previous comments, People from or who hang around downtown a lot might be a looking for a new band to listen to, seeing as how they have been playing there for a while now. but i love it, and can't wait go again, altho I hope they don't start playing the big venues, yeah....

      Now i must go wiki Pierced arrows.


      Jan 31, 2012 at 12:06am

      Don't feed the trolls.
      Everyone is entitled to like/dislike a band,I personally like the pack ad, but some of these criticisms aren't even about the show/band. Stop acting like a little goofnugget.

      A. MacInnis

      Jan 31, 2012 at 10:03am

      I was impressed the first time I saw them - thought of the Gun Club reimagined as a female duo. That alone was pretty unexpected.

      Wasn't at this show, though... damn...


      Jan 31, 2012 at 11:30am

      i just get tired of usinger's proverbial "if you weren't there" tag.......barf


      Jan 31, 2012 at 11:34am

      oh, you mean it's a "statement". i read the whole article wondering, 'so what did they say that was so jaw-dropping?'. but i get it now... it wasn't an actual statement, just a "statement".