The El Rey Theatre is a Los Angeles staple due to its refurbished art deco style, the venue touting lush red carpeting and large glass chandeliers. Therefore, along with its stadium-style layout, it proved to be the perfect setting to watch The Drums perform as a precursor to their performance at the iconic annual Southern California Beach Goth festival.
The opening band, Froth, a typical product of the infamous Burger Records record label enterprise, played all new songs, presumably from their upcoming album Contact. Froth's sound was jarringly different from their early material, but one could argue that it is most comparable to their release "Bleak." Garage-band influences became imminent through Froth's heavily implemented use of powerful drums and driving guitars. Although Froth's sound might have been very traditionally Burger Records-esque, their chord progressions were decidedly unique and diverse. Albeit typical of live performance, Froth’s recorded tracks flaunted far clearer vocals than the ones that were delivered on the stage. The more stripped-down and synthesized approach that they used in their final song “Contact” offered a refreshing reprieve from the preceding set.
Although the crowd was consistently pleased with Froth, when the headlining band took the stage, enlivened energy immediately became palpable. A thunder rolled over the El Rey Theatre as every audience member reached into their pockets for a cell phone, and sporadic cheering and whistling came from every corner of the theater. It became glaringly obvious that The Drums possess a presence. Their eccentric members had a seemingly effortless style which lulled the audience into a hypnotic trance.
Jonathan Pierce, the lead vocalist, was especially enticing. He projected primal and joyful energy as he twirled gleefully and interacted one-on-one with crowd members. Pierce and the eager civilians below fed off of each other's energy as the electricity becoming more evocative and tangible as the night progressed. The El Rey’s lack of barricade between audience and performer provided a no-holds-barred interactive experience that couldn’t have been accomplished at any other major consumerist stadium.
When The Drums began performing “Best Friend,” the crowd became passionate and slightly unruly. Many adrenaline-charged crowd members crawled their way to the stage for a few brief seconds of glory before the security guards yanked them down. Pierce labeled the audience as “the most generous crowd,” a well-deserved badge of honor.
The Drums’ sound was incredibly polished, and Pierce managed to deliver vocal perfection, even despite the rowdiness of the crowd. Since The Drums' last full-length LP, Encyclopedia, made its debut in 2014, it was only natural to assume new material from the band. And the assumption came to fruition: they performed the brand-new song “Mirror” for the first time in front of an audience. The Drums tripped up at the beginning of the song and had to re-start, however, the second try was just as well performed as the rest their set. The track boasted their familiar upbeat surf-rock and featured a female vocalist, which was a jarring but ultimately appreciated switch from the norm in terms of the band’s previous discography. Pierce endearingly mentioned that he was “nervous for the show,” since the band hasn’t performed in a while, but the crowd “settled all [his] fears.” If the majority of fans of The Drums are anything like those that made up the enthusiastic and gleeful crowd that turned up at the El Rey, the band needn’t have any qualms in terms of how their new record will be received.
EMMA HERZIG, INTERN