By Baby Tuckoo | Images by we-are-awesome
“Adjust Your Height So You Don’t Appear Human At First Glance”
The evening started off with some strange, strange banter; tequila and two lovely, crazy sisters. Something about plans to climb into an empty dog food bag and emerge slowly from it to scare the crap outta my flatmate come the morning (plan was sadly abandoned). And, I have it on the authority of the same let’s-get-in-the-empty-dog-food-bag-scare girl that the key to giving a good fright is that you have to adjust your height so that you don’t appear human at first glance. And I can see what she’s saying… but honestly? No. I’ve never really given too much thought to the matter.
But, the really scary thing was that after 3 tequilas apiece and a stiff drink, we were on our way to the Bassline in Newtown to watch The Drums live, an Adidas Originals-organised event. We came in, wangling our way past the press entrance table, one of the sisters having managed to engineer an extra press entrance last minute. We’d missed pretty much the entire set of the Black Handed Kites by the time we got inside and ordered tequilas. We managed to catch the last two tunes of their set. The most memorable thing that I recall was a giant, pedal-driven, bourgeois wedding cake-like pile of tambourines on a metal stand being carried off at the end of their faux-folk, banjo, acoustic strumming set of kick drum & tambourine powered white-boy folk anthems. It wasn’t too terrible. It was actually very tolerable and pleasant, to my surprise.
Next up. Desmond & the Tutus. No big introduction really necessary here. They’re pretty much an indie-rock staple in SA. Everywhere there’s big organised indie vibes and/or cake vibes you will find them rocking it out: bassist Nic getting blisters on his strum-thumb, the little hobbity one (Doug) jiving like he’s got an iPod full of township jive secretly playing in his ears, Craig faithfully keeping the beats, and Shane putting his back out. Their far-too-many-hyphens-in-our-chosen-genre-to-be-taken-too-seriously-at-all (kwela-indie-pop-rock) seems to keep ZA-ites pretty well pleased. Look, I’m really no fan of their music but they did put on an impressive and craptache-wiggling performance that had the whole place in pretty much the mood by the time they were done.
And then? The lights were turned a little fuller; the sound inched up a notch and on came:
Now the drums are a pretty sexy band. A sexy, twee and cool as ice kinda sexy. They emanate a large amount of cool from the stage. Some cool as fuck hairdo’s and some less cool (ironic I imagine?) haircuts. Some cool jackets and some less cool (ironic I imagine?) shirts. By this stage of the evening I was in absolutely NO state to have been allocated this assignment and to write about this show. But they had me drinkin’ & dancin’; dancin’ & drinkin’. And that, quite simply, was all that was required of them.
I was looking at this really, really great sexy girl in this little black dress; so I honestly didn’t take a whole lotta time to soak in The Drums. But I can say that Mr. Jonathan Pierce intimates a fairly close approximation to an obvious Morrissey persona with his bright red jacket and wide-eyed boyishness, while the rest of the band create a platform for his blonde-fringed swagger as he poured out their unmistakable Kissimee, Florida, by way of Brooklyn-NY, surf-pop harmonies. They were comfortable as hell up there. Or at least they looked it. And they made the place move! Like a seething, hipster anthill in heat.
Their closing (or near closing) track: the pretty obvious Let’s Go Surfing, was cheekily stopped abruptly two-and-half bars into that unmistakable bass riff teasing hipsters like a well versed Casanova. Two cheeky little jibes from Pierce and they were back into it. That whistling carefree happiness ringing along like a definitely more cheerful Joy Division / New Order. And they are far more complex to my mind than their recorded fair. They bring out that Smiths rhythm section combined with a more simplistic melodic chiming guitar that is, well frankly, pretty blooming awesome! A really fantastic band to dance to live. Mr Pierce is really great prancing frontman too: they’re truly a band to experience live.
Kitchener’s Bar was (obviously) the after-party. A fucking great way to spend my Friday evening and Saturday morning. Please, please, please, let’s get some more non-Moody Blues, non-Eagles, non-Bryan Adams, non-Neil Diamond acts over here…… asse-fucking-blief.
So yes, adjusting your height when giving someone a fright might well make you scarier; but what a night with The Drums taught me and what’s even more scary is we’ve reached that point on the music history timeline where one needs to adjust ones expectations. There’re no Beach Boys, there’re no The Smiths, nor The Rolling Stones, nor The Doors, nor Kinks or anything resembling that, but we do have bands like The Drums. And they’re harmless, and they’re fun.
It taught me that and also to just: Enjoy Shit!
In the cold, cold night a boy was birthed. A flash of white noise; nearby televisions sparked; then returned to normal. Viewer’s wrongly put it down to electrical storm interference. The boy entered the machine. He’s been trying to escape ever since.