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The Drums At Amoeba, Tuesday October 14th 2014

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The Drums

Once again, I was going to Amoeba for an in-store gig, confident I would be able to find a reasonable spot because I was there an hour in advance… well, I was wrong once again, as the Drums are definitively famous! The line was stretching around the block and was denser than usual, I will never be able to get in I thought! I opted for the mezzanine solution, as watching the show from above is not so bad after all,… seriously, Amoeba had reached beyond capacity, more than 800 people had invaded the store on Tuesday night to watch the Brooklyn band celebrate the release of their new album ‘Encyclopedia’.

I had seen the Drums once but hadn’t really realized their impressive popularity,.. Is it because their music — which has this vague sonic resemblance with the Smiths’ — attract the young LA Latino crowd which has a love story with Morrissey? This may contribute, I would not reduce the Drums to a modern substitute for the Smiths, but the slow tempo songs they played at Amoeba didn’t divert me too much from my first impression. Jonny Pierce’s morose and detached vocals were floating around 80s new Wave inspired melodies, and if there was some Morrissey spirit in the air, it was certainly in the way he was moving and singing with a rare nonchalance… Actually, Pierce was constantly undulating with the music, a bit like Boy George was doing it in these 80s videos I remember about, and hundreds of arms were around him, holding phones, taking pictures and videos… the Drums are rockstars? In LA they are!

They didn’t overplayed their new album, I just counted three new songs according to the setlist, but rather were giving to their fans a medley of their two previous albums ‘Portamento’ and ‘The Drums’, and there was no chance I could get Morrissey out of my head when they did ‘Best Friend’ of their debut self-titled LP. Of course, the fans were very sensible to this and ‘Money’ was received with a lot of sing-alongs and enthusiastic jumping, so that the mezzanine floor was moving a bit. After the newer and darker ‘I Hope Time doesn’t Change Him’, Jonny Pierce said ‘It does not feel we are in a store anymore’… yeah it was a hot and sweaty club ambiance by now.

The Drums are officially reduced to two people (Connor Hanwick left the band) and only Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham sat at the signing table after the show as a matter of fact, but on stage they were a vibrant five-piece band, with frontman Pierce doing all the dancing, making me smile when he sang, ‘When everyone wants to dance/I can’t stand up’ [during ‘I can’t pretend’]… There were still plenty of these sad lyrics full of cheeky romantic delusions [‘So help me/Because I feel you drifting/You’re drifting away now/And I’m scared/And I hope time doesn’t change him’], so that I totally understand the attraction for all these young people who had lined up hours before the show… The Drums always manage to sound mopey and desperate despite the dancing, the shimmering guitars and funny electronic sounds, despite the music being at its sunniest during ‘Kiss me Again’, which sounded like a cross between a Morrissey’s and a Best Coast’s song and may well be an answer to ‘Kiss me A Lot’.

‘We were feeling very angry, confused, and alone when we made this album,’ said Pierce in an interview, ‘and we wanted to be very honest this time around, even if being honest meant making some people uncomfortable. We’ve left the beach for higher ground, always searching for hope.’ I have read a few of their interviews and it is often question of ‘finding a safe place’, ‘being yourself and protecting yourself’… ‘When we croak, our records will still be here,’ he also said. ‘We want to have left great, conceptual, beautiful, glimmering records in the world. We’re thinking super long term, like dead-term.’ I don’t think they had these deep thoughts in mind when they were playing in Amoeba, they certainly seemed to have a good time. ‘This is a love song’ Pierce announced before playing their last song ‘How it Ended’… but is it a love song or a ghost song? In life, it always ends like this anyway, but at least the songs will still be there.

Setlist
Days
I Can’t pretend
Book of Stories
Best Friend
Money
I Hope Time doesn’t Change Him
Book of Revelation
Kiss me Again
How it Ended

Many pictures of the show here.


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