Photos By: Summer Luu
By: Dennis Moon
If you told me The Drums were your favorite band, I’d completely understand. Their sound is made up of simple elements: surf-tinged guitar licks, bouncing drum patterns and Smiths-influenced vocal phrasing, but their songs stick with you, delivered with real heart by front man Jonny Pierce. They have something iconic, which has led to a lasting connection with a modest but passionate fan base. At the Irenic last night, what was likely meant as a tune up before the band hits FYF fest in Los Angeles this weekend turned into a shared moment of joy and freedom for everyone present.
Openers Froth kicked off the festivities with an oddly paced, but tight set. Their first two songs were really enjoyable in their marriage of pop melody and a shoegaze aesthetic, but then they essentially decided to lay on one chord for over 8 minutes, and promptly left the stage. They demonstrated a potential to transport people, but got perhaps got caught up in trying to use length instead of beauty to do so.
The Drums’ choice to kick off with the tense, brooding “Bell Laboratories” left a lively crowd breathless, wondering what to do with their feet, but the sheer sight of Pierce taking the stage filled the room with noise and nervous energy. Then, as soon as the band launched into “I Can’t Pretend,” the second single off their criminally underrated third record, Encyclopedia, all was set right. It reminded me that though The Drums are known for light, jaunty surf songs, their tunes about heartbreak are equally easy to get down to. Pain for them is just another reason to let loose, and fittingly, no one stood still all night. The set abounded with familiar favorites (“Money,” “Let’s Go Surfing”) and was really made special by crowd participation. The tunefulness this crowd displayed singing along was legitimately impressive.
The band displayed an ease and comfort that can only come with experience, and their quiet confidence reminded me of something I heard Annie Clark say about stage presence, essentially that greatness is leaning back, and forgetting that it’s your job to impress a room full of people. The trick, as The Drums have learned, is remembering you’re one of them.