Show Review: The Drums at 330 Ritch (Popscene), 11/12/2009

by Carla Deasy on November 16, 2009

Leaning on a wall of sound

Leaning on a wall of sound

Sitting at a table alone with two strange boys, I toyed with my drink, waiting for my friend who fell asleep to show up. I saw a girl on the dance floor throw her cell phone on the floor, pick it up, then storm off leaving her two friends with stupefied looks on their faces. Boy trouble! Don’t I know it.

Which is where I was at when I first heard The Drums on KALX last week.

“I Felt Stupid” was in the middle of a pretty amazing set on the radio, and happened to fit the craptastic state I was on the brink of knowing. Tracking down the song caused one thing led to another, and I find myself volunteering to review their show at Popscene. This was the San Francisco debut of this Brooklyn-based band. Its pretty exciting to see a band in the beginning of their career. It’s that hope and newness. Like cute shoes that you just had to have, and then desperately crossing your fingers that they don’t hurt your feet.

As The Drums get into position, lead singer Jonathan Pierce tells us that this is about his best friend. My guess is fellow band mate Jacob Graham (guitar and tambourine). They have a history making music as they first played together as teens in an electro pop band called Goat Explosion.

Overwhelming feelings of pure enthusiasm quickly overtook the room. It just poured out of the band. I’m sure it was partly the handsome lead singer, and the band with their peppy indie-dance, almost new wave sound with a bit of a lo-fi edge (lots of songs have clapping and whistling). But for me, all that energy seemed to explode from the tambourine player/guitarist, Jacob Graham. He was like a flea, leaping jumping jacks from one side of the stage to the other. It was like a gymnastic Mormon on ecstasy, with all the necessary gay under…ahem…overtones. It really brought forth the frenzied joy that seems to permeate their songs. And it seemed to balance the dash of melancholy that Pierce evoked for me with his Ian Curtis epileptic running dance moves.

As the set played through, and Graham switched his tambourine for guitar, the influences of post-punk band Joy Division came through more than just with the visuals. But what keeps them apart in my mind of post-punk revival bands like Interpol and The Killers is that dash of shiny ’50s surf influence. Maybe it’s the shiny joy of being a band of beautiful young gay men with great new songs to sing. Whatever it is, there is a bit of pep in their step that’s so infectious that my heart was leaping across the stage right along with Jacob Graham.

Partial Setlist (Comment to fill in the blanks):

1: Best Friend
2.
3. Submarine
4. Make You Mine
5. Don’t Be A Jerk, Jenny
6. Let’s Go Surfing
7. Saddest Summer
8. I Felt Stupid
9.

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