Pictures By Liz Colville
Some time after 10:30 on a Tuesday night, the Drums
, led by best friends Jonathan Pierce
, a New Yorker and the band's lead singer, and Jacob Graham
, a Floridian, began a night of hand claps and helicopter arms, tambourine pounds and cross-stage prances, asserting a stage presence that's helped them become one of the most buzzed-about bands of 2009.
"We only write about two feelings," the Drums write on their website: "being overcome with all of your hopes and dreams at once, and realiz[ing] you will be alone forever." Indeed, Pierce prefaces songs with loaded little introductions: "This is for my best friend," with a glance at Graham; "This is about feeling stupid;" and "This is about love."
With their first single, "Summertime," the band introduced a fun, simple surf pop aesthetic. In the video for the song, the band jogs down a beach at night, talking about the daytime pleasures of the place (namely, surfing, which motivated their decision to live in Florida rather than New York). Above all, it's ear candy, but the video is a cleverly jarring piece, and that given, it comes as no surprise that other Drums songs are more complex and more affecting than this hot-weather hit.
In the live setting, the rapid noodling and driving harmonies of the moodier numbers are handled with choreography that's just a little less kooky, but no less adamant, than the leaping and jumping live performance of Summertime. There were moments on Tuesday when the band became the performers Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were expected to be, so visually urgent that they seemed to be fighting to differentiate themselves in a sea of bands. Pierce and Graham, enveloped in the tight Mercury Lounge space, bounced around the small stage, arms exaggeratedly flailing and stretching up to the ceiling in movements fit for a Broadway musical, emphasizing and emboldening the emotions in the music. It looked exhausting, but as the sweat intensified, so did the energy.
The crowd grew irritated by sound glitches, which weren't helped by Pierce's constant meandering, and at one point the audience grew divided as the most avid dancers jostled and crashed into the non-dancers. A gaping hole formed on the floor as the crowd stepped back to let two young men resolve an issue—to dance or not to dance?
But the band didn't notice and before long, the crowd found a balance, heels bouncing and heads nodding. -liz colville
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Pictures:The Drums At Mercruy Lounge
The Drums on Myspace