Live Review: The Drums and Surfer Blood with the Young Friends at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – Sunday 12th September 2010

By on Tuesday, 14th September 2010 at 2:00 pm

Most bands who go on tour together start out as acquaintances and then become good friends over the course of a tour. The Drums and Surfer Blood don’t have to worry about that; members of Surfer Blood have played with the Drums’s Jacob Graham, so everyone pretty much knows everybody else, which I think can only be a good thing. With autumn on DC’s doorstep, the two surf poppish bands stopped by as co-headliners to the 9:30 Club for a fun night of good tunes Sunday night.

The Young Friends from Phoenix were the opening act. I’m usually pretty sceptical about rock bands that have one guitarist (not two) plus a bassist, yet these guys made a good job of it. They have a very similar rock/pop sound to the Drums and Surfer Blood, so all things considered, they were a really good fit for support. The band itself is Andrew McKee (lead vocals / bass) and Brant Stuns (guitar) and a touring drummer. Now that I play bass, I can appreciate just how hard it is to play a rhythm instrument and sing at the same time. Songs like ‘I Won’t Break Your Heart’ indicate that even though these are a pair of ‘Young Friends’, they know what they’re doing when it comes to writing songs. Stuns in particular was hilarious to watch onstage because he reminded me of Peter Crouch, only shorter and trying to imitate Chuck Berry’s duckwalk.

The Drums were on next. I’d seen singer Jonathan Pierce’s red satin jacket in Phil’s coverage of their MTV’s 10 for 2010 show at Camden’s Dingwalls with Death Metal Disco Scene and Delphic and was quite pleased to see it would be making an appearance on their North American tour. When I had been waiting outside with a friend before the doors opened, we could hear the strains of ‘Best Friend’ during their soundcheck, and this was the bounciest of all songs they started their set with, drummer Connor Hanwick leading the way with his beats as club goers moved and grooved to the Drums’ brand of pop.

Pierce’s voice with the soaring “ahh ahh ahhs” of the chorus, sounded amazing. This was on top of his voguing / posturing he was doing the entire set, working his way back and forth across the stage. A punter behind me noted that guitarist Jacob Graham was playing his guitar as if it were a bass – pretty neat! – and it was as if he was possessed by the notes he was playing, lost in his own world, sometime twirling around balletically, as fellow guitarist Adam Kessler was the more stoic one. The only disappointment was not hearing ‘Let’s Go Surfing’: I got into a slightly heated argument with a woman behind me who complained that they did not play ‘Down by the Water’, when in fact that was the song the Drums ended with. (For a while I wondered if she was drunk but then I realised she was confusing ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ with ‘Down by the Water’, the former having a bridge lyric of ‘down down baby / down by the rollercoaster’.)

Surfer Blood I’d seen before opening for the Pains of Being Pure at Heart in June. But this time at the 9:30, they were a much more polished outfit. Singer/songwriter J.P. Pitts doesn’t look like he has a swelled head, but if I were him, I’d have one. While their set started off a little sluggishly (probably due to lack of a real soundcheck), ‘Harmonix’ a third of the way in kicked things into high gear, starting with funky guitar riffs then turning into a rock ‘n’ roll free for all. This was followed by ‘Floating Vibes’, another tune with a suitably boppy mood. ‘Swim’ is a single people will remember for a long time, it’s the kind of song you imagine people singing at football stadiums in the very near future, when before they used to shout to Gary Glitter’s ‘Rock and Roll Pt. 2’. Guitarist Thomas Fekete is just the epitome of cool when he’s playing, and why wouldn’t you be, if you knew your band had some killer songs?

The crowd loved them, judging from everyone dancing, hands way up in the air. I got a shot of their set list before they began, but after playing not one but two encores, I gave up trying to keep track of what they played. That’s right. The crowd demanded two encores, the second of which required the band to come down from the artists’s balcony to reclaim their spots onstage. I’d say Surfer Blood is ready for the big time.

The Young Friends Photos:

The Drums Set List:
Best Friend
Book of Stories
Make You Mine
Me and the Moon
I Need Fun in My Life
We Tried
It Will All End in Tears
Forever and Ever Amen
Down by the Water

The Drums Photos:

Surfer Blood Set List: (based on their handwritten setlist)
Fast Jabroni
Take It Easy
Twin Peaks
I’m Not Ready (new song)
Floating Vibes
new song
Catholic Pagans
Boyelder (new song)
// + 2 separate encores

Surfer Blood Photos:

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