The Soft Pack @ Plug

 The Soft Pack
18th Feb 2010
The Plug

The Ran-Tan Waltz, with one of the vultures from the Jungle Book on guitar, play a post-punk influenced set including a cover of 'Psycho Killer'. Its a sound that calls for but sadly lacks the tight musical accomplishment of a band like Talking Heads. Have we stumbled in on a practice session?

Alessio Natalizia aka Banjo or Freakout avoids the often stale sound of pre-programmed beats by roping in a drummer for his sample and loop-driven live performance. The pair produce an astonishing percussive sound which at times would not sound out of place on a Gang Gang Dance record. Well worth looking up.

An odd crowd has not really filled Plug's sterile second room at this point. Surprisingly, Sheffield's hipsters are not out in force. Perhaps the internet buzz around The Soft Pack has yet to reach these shores. In front of me, a man dances smugly. Is he pilled up or just an idiot? His friend's nervous glances say pills; the leather jacket says idiot. Another man stands alone, shins against the stage, sweatshirt tied round waist. Three girls appear to have arrived early for the black hole of happiness that is Jump Around. Four men in sweaters wander onto the stage. The singer holds the microphone in one hand, the other remains nonchalantly in his pocket. Is this it?

An appropriate response, as it soon strikes me that if The Strokes had written their debut in LA, it might have sounded a little like this. The sun-drenched guitars are distinctly West Coast, but this isn't surf rock; Matt Lankin's lyrics are if anything a clearer articulation of the same Californian disillusionment as sung by Nathan Williams of Wavves. Songs from their new self-titled LP are rattled off alongside highlights from The Muslims (after their apparently too controversial former band name). Lankin's couldn't-care-less delivery on fan favourite 'Extinction' suggests that whoever the defiant lyrics ('I don't want anything from you / This is extinction for you') are directed at, he has certainly walked away with the upper hand. And tonight, so do his band.

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