Music Box @ Fonda - Sept. 29, 2010
Love Is Not Daring Anymore. That was the theme when The Drums took the Music Box stage and tried to prove otherwise with heartfelt variations on common themes. Openers The Young Friends took to the stage with the room at about a third the capacity and played until it was half full. Frontman Andrew McKee held his own, despite his pension for dropping to a baritone on occasion that was only half formed.
The room warmed up and filled in as the sound of reverberating feedback played over the darkened room. Suddenly curtains came up, lights popped on, and The Drums took to the stage, launching into "It Will All End in Tears." Vocalist Jonathan Pierce sported a red jacket, one size too small and eye shadow two shades too dark, while guitarist Adam Kessler (who made his exit from the group official on September 16th, 2010), opted for a more chic look for what looks to be one of his last shows, carrying a modern guitar and unbuttoning his shirt almost down to his belly button. In stark contrast, additional guitarist Jacob Graham played an old wooden style guitar, more akin to the surf era sound The Drums toy with, and wore a collared shirt buttoned high enough to wear a neck tie. Sitting behind them all was percussionist Connor Hanwick who wore a ratty blue sweater, hanging loosely over a crumpled T-shirt, his unkempt hair bobbing to the beat of The Drums.
Pierce, who's mastered an awkward shimmy and shake, slightly reminiscent of a Bowie / Mick Jagger mash-up, confidently took control of the stage and guided the band into their second tune "Best Friend." By this time, the audience was bouncing, jumping, throwing their hands in the air, anything to get closer to the feeling of riding the music into a blissful place. Every "a-ha" that permeates the tune, and there are many, were accompanied by a slew of arms flailing towards the ceiling both by the crowd and the hyper-energetic Pierce, who stopped his dancing long enough between songs to mutter "You know, it's nice to be back in L.A. It's our second surf here... If you're feeling inebriated, you can't possibly look more foolish then we do, so enjoy yourselves." And the crowd took his invitation as gospel.
As The Drums segued into "Submarine," Andrea, a gorgeous beautician I had met that night, one of the many concertgoers prone to fits of jumping and random interjections of "Oh, my God! I love them," but with nicer hair, leaned over and yelled to me "It's like the purity that the '80s never had." As Pierce wiped his microphone from side to side, and his bandmates played their instruments until every ounce of soul was squeezed from them, I couldn't help but agree.
Between songs, Pierce simply muttered what appeared to be his go-to catch phrase "Thank you," accompanied by a Japanese-style bow, before launching into “Book of Stories.” Exhausted from an amount of dancing that was equal to several nights out to any average person, Pierce sat down at the front of the stage for a good chunk of the song, the crowd bobbing like fish hooks in the ocean, ready to grab onto his every word. When the tune was over, he explained away his sudden lapse of activity. "My shoelaces came untied," he said, as some roadies quickly reset Hanwick 's side drum, which had toppled over mid-tune.
Pierce quipped, "This is a night of Pop Music," as The Drums launched into "Make You Mine," from their EP, before moving to crowd favorite, "Let's Go Surfing." Mid-song, Pierce, propped up on one foot, leaned against guitarist Kessler, pushed off, and almost lost his balance. If you didn't see it, you would have never known, however, as his vocals continued un-strained, without missing a beat. Many people probably didn't see it, as the ground literally pounded under foot, with the sheer energy of the music and the crowd.
While most tracks were fairly faithful renditions of their album counterparts, "Forever And Ever Amen" differed slightly as the band inserted an extended build up, the smoke on stage reaching mythic proportions, swarming around the band like a lazy fog on the bay.
A quick flash of goodwill from Pierce came in the form of an "I hope you're all enjoying yourselves," before he transitioned into a strange robot run and excessive hair rubbing, while emoting his way through "I Need Fun In My Life." A quick physical reset and small grunt of exhaustion and The Drums were launching into that ethereal space of "We tried." Kessler did a quick signal to raise the volume on his guitar, as the previous tune had some washed out acoustics, before launching into “Skippin’ Town.” As Hanwick silenced his Ludwig drum set, a hush fell over the crowd, followed by groans of sadness, as Pierce announced "We have one more song left."
As The Drums moved into "Down by the Water," a single spotlight hit the stage, wide enough to illuminate the foursome. Graham, with nothing to play, launched into a pantomime dance that was oddly earnest yet goofy. His interpretive dance soon morphed into an embodiment of a 1950s style doo-wop background singer, complete with finger wiggles and hand motions towards the crowd. As Pierce brought the crowd down off their high, his red jacket gleamed in the light, like the heart he was wearing not just on his sleeve, but his entire body. A toss of the microphone to the ground, and The Drums were silenced.
The Drums - The Drums
More by this writer:
Stars - The Five Ghosts
Teenage Fanclub - Shadows
Morcheeba - Blood Like Lemonade
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs