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Tuesday August 6 2024
  8:00PM doors -- music at 8:30PM
$15 in advance / $17 at the door
 garage rock
 indie alternative

-from Toronto, ON
-Madeline Link, who makes music under the moniker PACKS, has always found inspiration in her surroundings. When it came to newest effort Melt the Honey (her
second full-length in the space of a year), she wanted to look beyond the mundane spaces that had informed much of her previous work. Over the course of 11 days
last March, Link and the rest of her band (Dexter Nash [guitar], Noah O’Neil [bass] and Shane Hooper [drums]) gathered in Mexico City, a city that already held a
special place in her heart as an artist-in-residence at Casa Lü in 2020). PACKS practiced new songs in a rented studio space, with each member bringing their
aesthetic sensibility to the table. From there, they took a bus to Xalapa where they spent the remainder of their time abroad working at a house known as Casa
pulpo, an architectural feat removed from the bustle of city life, owned and operated by Wendy Moira, the visionary behind Teatro Lucido, a prominent theater and
music venue in Mexico City. “The house has no straight lines, it puts you in a creative mindset,” Link says. “Plus, it was really warm, we were there for three weeks
enjoying the weather and self-recording with minimal equipment.”

Melt the Honey emulates the environment in which it was made; it’s a warm, unvarnished album, one that invites the listener into PACKS’s familial way of working.
Listening to it makes one feel as if they were there in the forests of Veracruz while the band laid down tracks. “Paige Machine” opens with the hiss of rain from an epic
thunderstorm as Hooper counts in the song that was inspired by Mark Twain. “He invested in a printing device called the Paige Compositor, spent his life’s savings on
it, and it worked almost perfectly, it would have been revolutionary,” Link explains. “But then the inventor, Paige, took it apart to tweak something, make the machine
work even better, and it never worked again. They say that this failure led to Mark Twain’s decline.” To Link, the Paige Machine is an apt metaphor for life, wherein our
stubborn, progress-hungry attempts to improve what is already working can lead to obsessive tinkering and endless re-dos. Embracing imperfection proved critical while
recording at Casa pulpo, where outages caused by storms and inconsistent electrical wiring ended up serving the record’s ethos rather than hindering it. Another stand-
out track, “HFCS,” begins with Link singing a note far out of her typical register. “I dunno if that’s gonna work,” she says, laughing, before the bold lead guitar part
takes over, launching them into a straight-up power pop song reminiscent of the Hives. It’s a song that’ll get the crowd moving, as Link sings about the tantalizing, if
sickening, promise of downing a bottle of Crown high fructose corn syrup, just for the thrill of it. “It’s about that creepy rush of adrenaline,” she says. “Like when you
drink a lot of pop or get a text from a crush.”

The making of Melt the Honey was a communal experience, with the same group of musicians who have joined her since her Take the Cake debut in 2021 taking part
once again. “My bandmates are like my brothers,” Link says. “For me, the whole point of being a band is to have fun making music. I don’t like a studio environment
where you’re under a time constraint or financial constraint and no one is enjoying themselves.” Part of the vibrancy of the recording also comes from an underlying
emotional shift in Link’s life: falling in love. After doing it alone for so long, Link is finally embracing the sense of ease that comes with knowing you’re cared for. “These
songs are happier, or more optimistic, than any I’ve written,” Link says. “I was feeling generally less horrible than I have in the past,” she laughs. The album’s title
draws from the single “Honey,” written in a Chilean beach town where Link briefly lived ensconced in these feelings, sharing a home with her romantic partner and
allowing herself to experience life in an easier way, through the lens of having someone by her side. While Link is in a happier state-of-mind, Melt the Honey still finds
a way to dig into the grit of her emotions, exploring new sonic territory as she goes. From the scuzzy shoegaze of “Pearly Whites” to the psych-textured interlude of
“AmyW,” Melt the Honey is the band at their most fully-formed yet; unafraid to experiment while simultaneously doubling down on their signature quirky earworms that
reverberate with universal appeal.

The record is the product of a band in motion. As they toured across various states, glimpses of dilapidated diners and gas stations outside their window triggered
palpable emotions. Songs such as "Her Garden," were inspired by paintings, while tracks like "Pearly Whites" and "Paige Machine" drew inspiration from literary works
(specifically, "On The Road" by Kerouac, 1957; "Palm Sunday" by Vonnegut, 1981). “Missy” is told from the point-of-view of a cat who hung around the practice space
in Xalapa, meowling at the neighborhood tomcat in desperation. “She was trying not to look at us, but we could see right through her,” Link says. The yearning in Link’s
voice (“Did I get those fleas to bite you?”) is later accompanied by Lupita Rico, who contributes a spoken word verse in Spanish. The compositions are filled with
surprises if you’re paying close enough attention: “89 Days,” the languid introductory track to the record, briefly appeared online in 2020 and the version showcased
on Melt the Honey feels emblematic of Link’s journey as a songwriter, whose share of navigating heartbreak and loneliness has finally found a more playful irreverence
that comes with keeping the faith. “Figured out seriously what I wanted all this time,” she reflects on “Honey,” and it’s here Link finally feels content enough to stop and
stay awhile.


-from Oakland, CA
-Spurts is always doing their best to make music that makes you feel like you're listening to a playlist of forgotten 90's bangers while using the bathroom at your
favorite brewery.