Working on the rest of the Out-Town-Experience miniseries… but in the meantime, say hello to my new pretend best friends, the Pack AD. Saw them a few weeks ago at the wee stage of the Velvet Lounge here in DC. I showed up too early and followed two kids carrying crates of records to the Dodge City bar next door where I sat drinking skank cider and strained to read the drinks menu in ridiculously dim lighting. The Pack AD showed up at the bar to order Miller High Lifes before the doors finally opened at Velvet Lounge (although I didn’t know what they looked like by then till I asked when I sat next to them at the bar of the Velvet Lounge). And when the doors finally did open at VL, I sat at the bar with another beer, and surprisingly found some company. A bushy-haired guy a little older than I who was friends with the bartender and several other shaggy characters crowded around the bar for meaningless conversation of the whereabouts of mutual friends. Bushy-haired kid eventually turned my way for conversation. He admitted having no career ambitions, but was thankful for a union-secure job. And he spoke fondly of the hardcore scene, and presumably had little need for the kind of music that now occupies most of the city’s small venues. And I told him I was there to see the Pack AD who eventually took a seat next to me. I turned and finally asked if they were the Pack AD and when they said yes, I wished them well. The drummer Maya Miller said thanks and mentioned they had been to DC once before, but she couldn’t remember where. “These places all look the same, after a while,” I said. And that’s true because, with the exception of layout, it’s the same decor, the same crowd, and almost identical-looking parts of town. Guitarist Becky Black, the other half of the duo, joked around with the drummer for the first opening band, The Flying Eyes. That’s what I like about obscure bands. You can see them in true form just chilling out in spaces shared with the masses. I also find it hilarious that the quintessential accessory of band members are the carabiner locks for their keys.
And so, I made my way upstairs eagerly awaiting for the show’s start, but I only wound up watching the Baltimore-based quintet, The Flying Eyes, tune-up and figured, from the looks of the crowd, that I’d be the only one there who didn’t play in any of the other bands or know who they were personally. One of their guitarist’s guitars were stolen during their recent European tour, and this was the first show with the new one. The Flying Eyes all looked like they took fashion cues from scenes of 1970s San Francisco and their baby-faced lead singer sang like Jim Morrison (and sounds even more like him in their recorded sessions). But, as the drummer admitted, the live performances were so much better. Ignoring the reminders of the 70s, their energy in a live performance seemed more reminiscent of harder grunge. Cracker, or something like that. But fast. Even on a tiny stage squeezed into the second floor of a small bar that was probably, at one time, a townhouse, they managed to move the crowd to action (yeah, people showed up!), which seems almost impossible to do at small shows these days, and especially for the first band of the night.
And then came the Pack AD, quickly setting up a guitar, amp, and drum kit stamped with the name of the band. Becky Black sort of looks like this moppish, 15-year old boy (and I’m sure she’s no longer a teenager), especially with the cross-footed guitar posing. Before seeing their show, I was sure that Miller, the older and somewhat more rugged looking of the two, was the lead vocalist. Nope, it was indeed Black, who’s vocals really defy her look. I could only describe their music to the unionized slacker downstairs as comparable to Concrete Blond’s vocals, but with the instrumental simplicity of the White Stripes, having only heard but never seen the band before. But what isn’t revealed in their recorded sessions but is onstage is their easy-going goofiness. Something that I can’t help but associate with my old high school friend, Tonia Poobczyck (who’s last name I never really bothered to learn, even when I reconnected briefly on Facebook recently). Just completely hilarious spasticness. Miller seems to be the more outgoing of the two, offering most of the banter, even apologizing for having exporting to the states one Justin Beiber. For some reason, that didn’t get as many laughs as it should have, even with the flow of alcohol all night long. But the crowd was weird. One old dude was chain-drinking and by the last song, walked up on stage and stood against the wall for what I expected would be some unwanted hitting-on. But by then, after an awesome live show, I was already over at the merch booth waiting for the band to pack up and head over so I could get my hands on a thick touring diary they turned into a self-published zine which actually illustrated how boring touring can be for these two rocking, Project Runway-watching foodies.
Hopefully, I can get the music zine back up and running soon, because there’s a few bands I’d like to interview, including these kids. Meantime, I’m posting the video for their song, “Deer.” I’m not too crazy of the video offerings up on YouTube (especially the shabbily recorded live performances), but the couch scenes of this one at least captures the bands nuttiness.
Update (12/28/2010): The Waller Not Weller blog caught up with the gang during their recent European tour. Check out the interview here.
Now back to writing this other thing.