Review: The Soft Pack + CHEW LiPS @ Hoxton Bar & Grill, Feb 26th 09.

The Soft Pack – Extinction

CHEW LiPS – Salt Air

Holy shit The Muslims were good tonight! Sorry, I mean The Soft Pack! They used to be called The Muslims you see but a few too many feathers were ruffled for that one to last. Anyway forget the name, tonight it’s the music that is most memorable. Like anyone I’m guilty of exaggerating from time to time but to hell with it – The Soft Pack are my new favourite band. Wow this post is off the blasphemy scale at the moment isn’t it! As I write this, set list smugly in hand I can inform you that the band start with tracks: ‘On My Time’, ‘Faithman’ and ‘Right Wrong’ all of which I’m unfamiliar with, my experience of them so far limited to MySpace tracks and their brilliant ‘Nightlife’ 7” single.

The songs are thankfully good enough to make prior knowledge unnecessary for enjoyment. Front man Matt immediately demands your attention with his lazy yet hard hitting vocal style, he has a bit of a shy college boy Jagger thing going on, an effortless coolness, which is surely the best type of cool. After the opening trio we get ‘Extinction’ and cue the start of the mosh pit, something you wouldn’t generally expect at this trendy East London venue on a Thursday eve but the crowd are really into the band tonight. A couple more tracks, new to me, succeed in keeping us enthralled.

Then onto the home straight and the best ten minutes of live music I’ve seen all year and the bar has already been set pretty high. ‘Bright Side’ kicks things off with its instantly recognisable opening bass line and later sing along exchanges of “oh, oh, oh” between Matt, band mates and audience. Single ‘Nightlife’ is next up and is one of the catchiest songs you’ll hear all year (featured in ‘On Repeat’), lyrics like ‘Nowhere to dance, nowhere to romance, you’re looking for some nightlife’ may seem a little predictable but subtle changes throughout keep them far from trite. Save the best for last they do too in the form of ‘Parasites’. The distorted rhythm guitar relentlessly chugs along with the occasional high-pitched riff there and then gone again just as quickly. Matt’s vocals all along act as another instrument, adding a layer to the noise, and at the same time his words sink firmly into your mind. I’m going to be replaying these tunes in my head for months to come, probably longer.

My gig reviews are usually chronological, support bands followed by headliners but for fear of some readers being short of time and not getting to hear my ramblings on The Soft Pack I’ve just broken the mould and put the headliner first. It’s unfortunate for main support tonight, CHEW LiPS, that it should happen to them (though I think they’ll get over it!) as they’re an excellent band and as deserving of the opening lines of a review as any I’ve written about so far. In fact I’ve already sung their praises numerous times on these very pages.

Tonight they deliver another high class performance, the only differences from the last time being a coupe of new tracks (Toro ?) and Tigs’ new short hair cut which I could take or leave but it’s still better than mine! She remains one of my favourite new front ladies along with Ritzy (The Joy Formidable) and it’s evident, more so tonight than ever after listening to a lot of new Yeah Yeah Yeah’s tracks recently, that there’s more than a little Karen O to her as well as the original Rosin Murphy that I picked up on. Chew Lips’ electro/guitar tunes are quality and during songs like ‘Salt Air’ and forthcoming (hit?) single ‘Solo’, there are few Brits that can touch these guys at the moment. Oh and due to her borderline A.D.D. movements she’s definitely still the hardest person in music to photograph so excuse the bluuuur.

Chew Lips @ Hoxton Bar & Grill, Feb 26th 09 by musicmule.co.uk

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3 Responses to “Review: The Soft Pack + CHEW LiPS @ Hoxton Bar & Grill, Feb 26th 09.”

  1. Sorry about my head bopping in front of your video. Another amazing gig!

    • Ah ha I thought I recognised you, now I remember – the chairlift gig I believe?
      Sorry for not saying hi. Glad you enjoyed The Soft Pack too – great band!

  2. Hahaha, that’s me. Don’t worry, I could have said hi too. Yeah they’re amazing.

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