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The Drums.At Hammerstein Ballroom, Saturday October 30th, 2010: Things That Go Bang In The Night -by Iman Lababedi

I was wrong.
 the Drums are a great band and I didn’t know what I was writing about when I dismissed them so cavalierly so often.
During a swoony, exciting half hour set at the Hammerstein Ballroom Saturday night, the Drums brought back the sorta gay coolness we haven’t seen since Morrissey was a kid. Drummer Connor Hanwick has a Smith-y bouffant, guitarist and co-founder Jacob Graham waltzes poetically, second guitarist has the stoic presence of a bassist and singer Jonathan Pierce? Pierce is a dramatic interpreter of intense, highly theatrical love songs.
In other words? Nothing like what I thought they were. “Let’s Go Surfing” gave me the wrong impression and, because Pierce’s voice takes some getting used to, I couldn’t quite grasp them.
But last night there was nothing to grasp during a hard hitting, greatest hits package, as powerful on one of the best songs around, “Submarine” as on “Down By The Water”: from one end of the set to the other. All four beats to the bar, happy songs sad things, asexual (ref. Pete Shelley), sweeping emotionalism.
The two guitarist settle in behind the drummer (that’s why it is so reverb-y) and Pierce is over the top but only just over the top. It is sexually ambiguous without being camp at all: in his rugby shirt and blond tousled good looks, Pierce feels like a gay icon, though there is no appreciable gay constituency to this show.
This is what Jonathan said to the Guardian back in February: ““I can’t speak for the others in the band but for me it comes down to whoever you fall in love with is who you fall in love with. To limit yourself is a sad thing. We drink beer, you know.”  Yeah, I know.
The flip side is I can’t imagine any gay teen going to see the Drums and feeling guilty over their sexual orientation afterwards, it is not glad to be gay, it is cool to be gay. At the Hammerstein, Pierce leans against Graham and sings a song of love in stasis. It is affectionate and emotional. A mess and a deliverance.
Just another moment in a half hour set of such precise playing and such pristine beauty and power it turned me into a fan.
I love the Drums.

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