Promoting their upcoming album Positive Thinking, The Pack A.D. took to The Cobalt May 12 and 13 to play back to back hometown shows. Combined with the opening bands on the bill, Glad Rags and Dead Soft, the first night played out like a mixtape found in a teenager’s bedroom of perfect punk anthems.
In true Riot Grrrl fashion, Glad Rags, kicked off the night with a show full of politically charged lyricism and unapologetically loud guitars. With a delivery that was reminiscent of early Sleater-Kinney, Selina Koop and Sarah Jane Taylor’s call-and-response vocals twisted and convulsed throughout their set. Making their way through nine tunes at a blistering pace, Glad Rags powered through their performance, even if at times they were sonically repetitive. Even so, the scathing chant of “I don’t wear a skirt / so you can control me” in “Meat Legs,” along with the undeniably catchy chorus of “Popsicles” were enough to win over an engaged, if modest, crowd.
Next up, Dead Soft took to the stage with a selection of newer tunes, and proved they hadn’t lost their ability to construct fuzzed out, grunge tinged soundscapes. Even though much of the material performed was new, it didn’t stop the Cobalt from jamming out alongside the band. Throughout their set, Nathaniel Epp’s vocals stretched between soaring well above the crowd to dropping low into a gnarled out growl, adding another layer of punk sensibility to Keeley Rochon’s girthy bass and Graeme McDonald’s kinetic drumming. The trio didn’t forgo a few older fan favourites, including the infectious “Phase,” as well as the heavier, frantic drawl of “Never Forever.” By the end of Dead Soft’s show, the floor of the Cobalt had grown dense with people eagerly awaiting The Pack A.D.
Only comprised of a guitar and drums, The Pack A.D. were still unquestionably the fullest sounding band of the night, easily droning out the pre-show music that continued to play three songs deep into their set. Though the first few tunes were tinged with feedback, the Pack found their groove before launching into “Cellophane.” It was here where Becky Black, with her wailing vocals, chugging guitar, and undeniable swagger, alongside Maya Miller’s pounding drums that refused to take a backseat, made it abundantly clear we were in for a treat.
Though much of the material performed was coming off of their upcoming LP, Positive Thinking, the crowd had no issue moshing to the new tunes, even with a few brave, if comical, attempts at stage diving. Standout songs of the night included the driving guitar behind “B.C. Is On Fire,” and the bluesy, smoky rendition of “Creepin’ Jenny.” Though the band is known for turning the dial up to eleven while performing, the duo proved that quiet can be just as intense in the distorted murmurs found in the tune “Loser.”
As the clock ticked on and the crowd had just begun to thin out, Miller hinted at an encore, imploring the crowd to “just make a lot of noise and pretend we’re not here.” Judging by the yelps of adoration that followed, The Pack A.D.’s first of two hometown shows was a raging success.