When: Sat., June 2, 9:30 p.m. 2012
Right from this California band's founding in 2007, when they were called the Muslims, the Soft Pack have been considered part of the garage-rock explosion of the late aughts—but the classification never suited them too well. Yes, they make guitar-based rock with a distinctively retro feel, and they project more than a little 'tude (an early single was a burn on at least half a dozen contemporary alt-rock bands). But they don't sound or look much like the first wave of Stones wannabes or any of the generations of revivalists who followed—they're more like the brainy, jangly, melodic bands that fell between postpunk and indie and got tagged with the unfortunate term "college rock." The Soft Pack haven't released an album since their self-titled LP in 2009, but that record's many charms have yet to fade. Its bracing and infinitely catchy opening track, "C'mon," may very well be remembered as the Pitchfork era's most withering takedown of hype and "indie cred," whatever that even means anymore. —Miles Raymer
Nobody in Grass Widow is a particularly good player or an exceptional singer, but when these three women work together they create something amazing. The Bay Area outfit certainly borrows from early postpunk, Rough Trade division—take Hannah Lew's brittle bass, for instance, or Lillian Maring's scrabbly drumming, or the sophistication that's not quite masked by the band's rickety sound—but more important, they add something new to that old aesthetic, particularly by singing together in complex harmonies. Delivered that way, Grass Widow's already lovely, folk-influenced melodies become something heavenly, their sweetness kept from cloying by the snaking, slightly clunky grooves. On their brand-new third album, Internal Logic (released by the band's HLR imprint), they play more fluidly and expand their palette a bit, adding spacey synthesizer and faux-classical acoustic guitar, but their vocal harmonies have evolved even more dramatically—they add a bit of 60s girl-group pop, without sounding the slightest bit retro. —Peter Margasak See also Sunday. The Soft Pack headlines; Grass Widow and Soft Speaker open.