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SLCR #247: The Pack a.d. (May 28, 2016)

One day after the Age of Electric, a little sleepy and still half-deaf, Mika and I headed back to the Exchange for the Pack a.d.

Then we headed away from the Exchange and drove around for an hour. Tickets said doors at 8:00, but Twitter and Facebook said doors at 7:00, and presumably those were accurate since they added two openers and you can’t update a ticket once it’s been printed, but you can update a social media post whenever, right? So yeah, doors at 8:00. I will never understand why something so simple is wrong so often, but people probably say that about me, so whatever. The drive was nice.

We returned to a street as devoid of parked cars as when we left. I had noticed a lot of plugs for this show on Facebook and Twitter, and had guessed that tickets were moving slowly. At its peak, I don’t think there were half as many people there as at the sold-out Age of Electric show the night before. There were maybe 30 people there in time for the start of the opening act.

Those that didn’t show up early missed out on the Ultimate Power Duo. They hail from Saskatoon and I am very glad that someone asked the question I needed answered: “Why are there three of you?” “Because we’re the ULTIMATE Power Duo,” was the reply, which somehow made no sense and complete sense at the same time. According to them, they play “destruction rock,” which is very loud and sometimes involves just picking up the bass guitar and punching it to make noise. Their newest album is the soundtrack to their graphic novel about fighting evil robot space Nazis. There’s an hour-long video you can watch if you want this experience for yourself – I just found out about this but hope to check it out soon. Anyway, these guys had tons of energy, lots of charisma, and were entertaining as all get out. Would go see again.

The second band was Werewolves Beware, or WEREWOLVES BEWARE, or Werewolves, Beware! depending on what source you choose when you google their name. I’m going with Werewolves Beware so as to not muck up my pretty sentences, though that comma really changes things. Is “werewolves, beware” a warning TO werewolves or ABOUT werewolves? And these folks DID howl when they took the stage, so maybe they were warning us about themselves? Very considerate, though we were a week removed from a full moon so we were probably safe.

Anyway, this is a duo from Calgary (I think?). He plays guitar, she plays synths. And they howl, as mentioned. There’s some singing too, but most of the songs were largely instrumental. If you like synth-heavy dancy pop, this might be your thing. It wasn’t so much mine.

Finally, The Pack a.d. took the stage; specifically, a stage festooned with Dollarama party decorations. I am not sure that the budget surpassed five dollars. Thankfully, one of their choices was a sign reading THE PARTY IS HERE which was handy for assuring us that we were in the right place.

I went into this show not knowing a ton about them. I feel like I got one of their CDs for free from Mint Records some years back (Funeral Mixtape, maybe?), but if so, I can’t find it. And if I did, I honestly don’t know if I ever listened to it. Not for any good reason; I just sometimes don’t get around to things. And then I get around to things and wonder what took me so long. Really, I don’t need to buy another CD, book, or video game for years. I’ve got a backlog that will surely outlive me.

But enough about my failings. I listened to the newest Pack a.d. album and enjoyed it, then we went to the show and I dug that too. Mika suggested that it was more of a her-show than a me-show, and that’s probably fair. She does tend to like rockier stuff than I do, and the combination of my relative unfamiliarity with the source material and the somewhat muddy sound meant I couldn’t really hear the lyrics well, resulting in it all sounding kind of samey after a while. But a good samey. Loud and driving and fun. Not sure I have a ton to say about them, or this evening as a whole, but so it goes.

Actually, there’s one thing – and I noticed this at Age of Electric too so it was unrelated to the bands – the Exchange seems to have bought themselves a new lighting rig. And they seem very proud of it. And that’s great! I like lights. Lights are pretty. But goddamn if you could quit shining them directly into my eyes every 17 seconds, that would be swell. Though I didn’t have it as bad as the security guard positioned at the corner of the stage. Where he was sitting, he took a blast right in the eyes from about a foot away, over and over and over. He looked like this was possibly not what he thought life would be like. I tried to get a picture of this but failed miserably and it is a regret I will carry to my grave.

• Meat Loaf (June 11)
• City and Colour w/Shakey Graves (June 12)
• Northcote w/Jordan Klassen and Josiah (June 22)
• The Besnard Lakes w/ Traces and Slow Down Molasses (June 23)
• BA Johnston (June 24)
• The Tragically Hip (August 1)
• Regina Folk Festival w/The Head and The Heart; Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder; Sam Roberts Band; The Mavericks; Bettye LaVette; The Cat Empire; The Strumbellas; Frazey Ford; more (August 5-7)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• I Mother Earth (October 8)

Pack A.D. – Funeral Mixtape

This scorching new release from the amazing Pack A.D. shoves you forward at gunpoint through the dirtiest, ugliest and most awesome blues this side of the Mississippi. It howls, it growls and it’ll make you yell with joyful abandon.

Once again Maya and Becky have offered up tasty slices of their juiciest best, grilled it all with J.D. BBQ sauce over an open flame and served it up piping hot for your grateful brain to devour. There’s no picking a favourite track here – this album completely rocks. We simply cannot stop listening to it.

Like the brilliant Tintype before it, Funeral Mixtape is a solid rump-shaker of a record that drips of sweat, energy, passion and the raw, pure power of the blues. Yet this record goes even another step, improbably upping the ante and lifting them still further above the rest. This pair makes a massive, tuneful and gritty sound that is so huge it’ll tear apart your speakers every chance it gets, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Just imagine the sheer enormity of these songs in a live setting… Oh man.

Long live the Pack A.D.! And our huge thanks to Mint for sending us this perfect disc for our review. Without a doubt it is the best record we’ve heard in ages.

Track Listing:
01 Blackout
02 Don’t Have To
03 Making Gestures
04 Shiny Things
05 Oh Be Joyful
06 Underground
07 June
08 Dannemora Blues
09 Build
10 Wolves And Werewolves
11 Worried

Pack A.D. – Tintype

Long live Mint Records! Such awesome taste in music! Such HUGE generosity! Oh baby!

You see, they sent us this review copy of the awesome Pack A.D. record smack dab in the middle of a really trying week I was having at work. My boss was in Cuba for the week on holiday, leaving me and another guy (neither of us having been employed at this place more than two months) in charge of the whole damn show. To say that we were crazy-busy and more than a little out of our depths would probably be understatement of the year. So, when this treasure appeared in the KMA mailbox towards the end of that hellish week, I almost cried I was so happy.

Thank you, Mint Records! You rock!

And so does this record! Maya Miller pounds away at the drums with beautifully controlled abandon, and Becky Black sings with soulful power while playing raunchy guitar (and some Hardtack Saloon piano, too). This duo is so drenched in the blues, it’s scary awesome. I’ve played it all the way through four times already, and I just have to say: I love this record.

So, you’re probably thinking, hm, bluesy duo? OK, what about the White Stripes, Dead Boy & The Elephantmen, and the Black Keys? Yep, they’re all duos, they all play the blues, and they’re all awesome. And you’re not too far off the mark (except Pack A.D. is all girls, baby!). But without hesitation you should totally add the Pack A.D. to this distinguished list – and then some. Add them twice. Seriously. They rock.

Please note, they are not just copies of what’s gone before from those other bands, either. Nope. No way. They definitely have a sound all their own, all within this structure. These songs are just dripping with power and style, howling tales of depth and myth that left me riveted the whole disc through. Try it with headphones. Wow!

Describe them further? Gladly! They have a sound just like my favourite Fat Possum records, and folks, that’s about the highest compliment I can bestow ‘cos I sure do love me some Fat Possum musics! Yeah!

I couldn’t possibly pick just one highlight track from Tintype, since the disc is chock full of them, but if you were to hold me down and force me to pick (which is very unfair of you), well, Stray really rocked me, Bang would make the perfect late-night driving song, Got Up’s slide totally kicks ass, Bone Handle is simply amazing, and… oh hell, let me up already! This entire record really knocked my socks off. It’s wonderful to hear an album that can take a style as established as the blues and do something refreshing with it, in this day and age. They examine every aspect of the Delta, fast and slow, and still manage to make it their own. Brilliant.

Man, I can only imagine how awesome it would be to witness this pair in a live setting. And you can! They’re gonna be on tour beginning in March (even playing at the Mint Showcase at SXSW in Texas!), so get out there and see their show if you can. Take my word for it, if their live efforts have anywhere near the same power as this record does (and I’ll bet it does, in spades), you’ll be blown away by it.

Thank you so much once again, Mighty Mighty Mint Records (and Shena, you rawk!)! You really did make my week by sending this marvelous record. I’m gonna go spin it again.

Your mission, Faithful KMA Reader, is to run out and buy this record.

Right now.

Go, already!

And tell your friends!

Track Listing:
01 Gold Rush
02 All Damn Day Long
03 Snow
04 This Terror
05 Stray
06 Pilot’s Blues
07 Hardtack Saloon #1
08 What’s Up There
09 Bang
10 Paper Bag
11 Got Up
12 Cabin
13 Hardtack Saloon #3
14 Buyin’ My Way
15 Walk Ono
16 Hardtack Saloon #2
17 Bone Handle

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