The Drums Fill Mercury Lounge with Smiles

September 23rd, 2009

The Drums – Mercury Lounge – September 22, 2009

The Drums
The Drums, riding the rising tide of Brooklyn twee, alongside bands like the Pains of Being Pure of Heart or their Swedish contemporaries the Shout Out Louds, played to a sold-out Mercury Lounge crowd last night. Briefly back in their hometown before they head overseas to continue their European tour, the band turned out endless pop hooks that put a smile on everyone’s face. And their positively reviewed debut, Summertime!, is going to sustain that warm feeling long into the upcoming cold Brooklyn winter.

Jonathan Pierce, the lead singer, is uniquely charismatic, and clearly the draw for the Drums. All eyes are on him as he moves animatedly throughout the entire show. He’s a gifted performer, almost theatrical in his dance interpretations. Truly infectious, he beamed and belted out lyrics in a tucked-in, upturned-collar preppy shirt. He’s that unselfconscious John Hughes character who’s found his moment to shine at the high school dance—the crowd parts as he goes for it, and everyone stands there with their jaws on the floor.

The Drums are reclaiming sparse guitar melody, dance beats and the vulnerability of post punk, and they’re leaving the rest to Pierce—sounding exactly like Erasure’s Andy Bell—who brings naturally talented, soulful vocals in sharp contrast to the angular groundwork. They can even get away with their obvious hit “Let’s Go Surfing” thanks to Pierce’s pure sincerity. It’s all about that optimistic feeling: I don’t have to believe they’ve ever stepped in the ocean to blindly follow along into the waves. Even New Romantic ’80s icon Boy George is validating the Drums, favorably comparing them to the Smiths and the Cure. They’re about to take you back to high school, and that’s not all bad. —Jason Dean