The Drums – Live Review

3 May 2011

Written by: Radhika Chopra

Watching people dance can be an extremely amusing past time. Some have got the groove, and others flail around like nobody’s business, obviously thinking no one is watching, even though they clearly are. Last Friday The Drums performed in Melbourne, and although everyone enjoyed dishing out a few moves to their indie-pop tunes, something was missing.

Touring as part of this past weekend’s Groovin’ the Moo Festival, the show marks the second time the band has graced our shores since their self-titled debut album release. While the gig was enjoyable, the biggest problem was that it seemed to be the Jonathan Pierce show. The lead singer continuously swanked across the stage, taking ownership of the space and reveling in the crowd’s attention.

He was confident – there’s no doubt about it.  But the other members faded into the background. This may have been partly due to guitarist Adam Kessler quitting mid-tour and the band having to make do with lineup changes. The most notable of which was former drummer Connor Hanwick being handed the spot of lead guitar. A positive result was that the band’s sound was enhanced, though Hanwick looked awkward out from behind his kit. Other members just seemed to be concentrating on their instrumentation and not taking into account their presentation.

Cross back to Pierce, whose performance resembled a blonde, American version of Morrissey. For those not familiar with the quiffed rocker, Morrissey is the former lead singer of The Smiths, a band that pioneered in the 80s independent British rock scene, and till today has a strong cult following. He also recently made news for dismissing the royals as ‘benefit scroungers’. Taking inspiration from one of the most influential men in music is definitely not an issue, but Pierce seemed to be channeling him in his entirety through his quirky dancing and demeanor.

Even though Pierce bordered on taking over and making the show one-dimensional,  there were a few good moments to the night. The Drums’ songs had a lot more presence and energy live compared to their recordings. ‘Best Friend’, ‘We Tried’, and ‘Book of Stories’ were all great numbers, and the crowd went mad for their danceable surf melodies. ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ was a definite pleaser, with its summer-infused vibe — although the song’s placement mid-set was questionable considering its popularity. The encore came with a slow burner in ‘Down by the Water’, and they finished their set on a high note adding a last burst of vigor into their performance of ‘The Future’.

The Drums may have to rethink their performance dynamics for future shows, but the night was still lively and entertaining. They were also lovely enough to greet fans afterwards, so definite brownie points for being nice guys.

Radhika Chopra is a Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and is a member of the upstart editorial team.