The Drums returned to San Francisco with a bang! Last spring, The Drums (singer Jonathan “Jonny” Pierce, bassist Johnny Aries, guitarist Tom Haslow, and drummer Bryan de Leon) supported Alvvays at The Fox Theater in Oakland following the release of their fourth album Abysmal Thoughts. Now out with their fifth record Brutalism, The Drums headlined two shows at the intimate August Hall on Thursday, July 25th and Friday 26th. Friday night packed the sold-out house as loyal fans old and young found their spots early as they eagerly awaited the New York indie surf pop band to walk on stage. The audience was highly entertained by the opener, J-pop all-girl group CHAI for the first thirty minutes. A brief interval to set up the stage for the night’s headliners later, each member of The Drums stepped on stage into position when lastly Jonny Pierce came and a loud cheer followed alongside photographers snapping away with their cameras. The Drums kicked off the set with their easily recognizable song “Days” off their sophomore album Portamento into their next single “Best Friend” from their self-titled debut. “Best Friend”, like most of Pierce’s pieces, is an upbeat anthem with somber lyrics. The Drums show felt more like a community than it did a show. There was a more thrilling, warm feeling from the crowd where there was a universal connection in just one space where everyone breathed The Drums. Then, Pierce smoothly transitioned to his down-tempo track “Heart Basel” off Abysmal Thoughts.
The core of the band’s show was mainly The Drums performing off their recent record Brutalism, in which they played: “Body Chemistry”, “Loner”, “Blip of Joy”, and “626 Bedford Avenue”. The album, similar to previous ones, is still melancholy pop in which listeners can sing/dance over heartbreak, failed relationships, and loneliness. Pierce sang with honesty and vulnerability. He even had a moment with the audience sharing his love and appreciation for the fans supporting The Drums all these years. After having a heart to heart moment, The Drums jumped to their next hits “Let’s Go Surfing”, “Money“, and “How It Ended” where everybody bum-rushed the front, danced and shouted the lyrics. On stage, all this emotion gives way to ecstasy. Pierce’s presence feels elastic and carefree as he lets his body loose like a wave rolling through his happy place. It’s fitting with the summery yet shadowy soundscape The Drums broadcast so well as Pierce sang from raw personal emotion having his eyes closed and becoming one with the music as the colored spotlight followed his every move across the stage. The Drums left the stage when the crowd chanted “one more song!” The gang came back playing fan-favorites for their encore including Portamento’s “Book of Revelation” in which Jonny had to start over as he stated, “This song is too important to f**k up”. Then two tracks from Abysmal Thoughts “Rich Kids” and “Blood Under My Belt” in which they concluded.
The Drums formed in 2008 and over a decade later are launched into the limelight with their modern-day 60s summer jangle-pop sound that’s reminiscent of The Beach Boys. During their set, they saw to it that our hopes were fulfilled, playing beloved tracks from their albums: The Drums, Encyclopedia, Portamento, Abysmal Thoughts, and Brutalism. It’s insane to realize that many fan-favorite songs from The Drums are nearly ten years old and seeing The Drums evolve with such strong maturity is what keeps bringing the fans back for more. We hope that the next time The Drums come back to the Bay Area, they play our favorites “Face of God” and “Kiss Me Again“.