Publicity stunt, or proof of the California school system? To have them tell it, when four spare San Diegan punk rockers named themselves “the Muslims” in 2006, they couldn’t imagine any response besides open, eager arms. And yet, as their profile rose on the L.A. live circuit and at last year’s CMJ, the press speculation and faceless Internet whipping proved to be too much for a few boys who just wanted to be the Voidoids. Now, they’re the Soft Pack, a sideways move for sure (to what does this allude? Nothing good), but their sound is intact—brash three-chord hooks, distorted fuzz over eager snare drum, and singer Matt Lamkin’s flat howl that harkens straight to Julian Casablancas. Expect a show as unpredictable as their logic—and twice as messy.

Fri., Jan. 16, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m., 2009