PACKS. Photo: Desiree Nikfardjam/Fulcrum
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PACKS packed Live! on Elgin

Live shows are finally back in Ottawa! With that, I was very excited to go to Live! on Elgin last Friday night to see Ryder the Eagle, who opened the show for headliners, PACKS. While drinks were being served, the venue was not serving food, so I quickly ran to a nearby McDonald’s to grab a double cheeseburger before the show.

The show was expected to start at 9 p.m. but Ryder the Eagle came out around twenty after in an all-white charro suit, with a spoken-word introduction. The artist from Mexico City was interacting with the crowd, making sure the audience was engaged throughout his performance. 

His style was heavily lyrical since each song told a different story. Many of his songs were based on his life experiences, for example, “The Divorce” and “The American Dream”, both related to his separation from his ex-wife and then getting thrown back into the dating scene and his experiences dating an American woman.

The audience was able to listen to Ryder the Eagle’s personal experiences through his lyrics, learning more about him with each song.

“I’m influenced more by movies and my life than I am with music. I’ve been through a lot and so telling my story through my music so that people can relate is the most important part for me,” said Ryder the Eagle in an interview after the show.

A little after Ryder the Eagle left the stage, PACKS appeared and began setting up their instruments. The band was composed of guitarist and lead singer Madeline Link, Dexter Nash on the guitar, Noah O’Neil on the bass guitar, and Shane Hooper on the drums. 

As soon as they began, the audience got up from their seats to dance by the stage and in front of the band. Whether it was the excitement of live shows coming back, or the lead singer’s strong voice, the energy from the crowd was high and consistent until the end of the show.

Their indie-rock sound often transported me to an image of California in the early 2000s, as seen through TV shows I used to watch such as The O.C. and 90210. 

At the end of their show, Link was joined by Ryder the Eagle for one last song before the night ended. The acoustic song, “U Can Wish All You Want” had Ryder the Eagle on the guitar as they shared one microphone to sing through. Before they started Ryder the Eagle mentioned that this was his favourite song of PACKS.

After the show, I had the chance to speak with Link about her inspirations and how PACKS came to be. While Link has been making music since 2014 under the name PAX, it wasn’t until 2018 when she met the rest of the members at a house concert and formed a band with them that they changed their name to PACKS. 

An important influence on Link was Micachu and The Shapes, they taught her a lot about the freedom of writing short songs that last less than two minutes. Link explained that she doesn’t like to force songs to be a certain way and lets them take her as far as it can go. Other inspirations include the Beatles, whom she has been listening to since a young age.

“I realized there didn’t need to be a structure, you can make music any way you want and just let be it how it is,” said Link.

“What made me excited was the feeling I felt when I got to play all my favourite artists’ music myself, like The Beatles.”