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Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL

November 4, 2010
In Greg Kot's latest book Ripped, he talks about the Internet generation foisting bands into the limelight before they've had time to develop a live prowess--and the backlash that comes with it. He speaks of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and how despite the romance of their breakout success, the word got around that they were a tepid live show and interest dwindled from there.

When Surfer Blood and fellow buzz band the Drums took the stage at Chicago's Lincoln Hall on Thursday, they proved themselves the exception. In February, I declaimed their debut album Astro Coast as little cause for celebration. I still think it to be somewhat uneven, and there's only about half of it that I want to play more than once, but in a live setting they no longer sound like they're not sure what they want to sound like. Even the weak moments of the album came off with panache and force in a live setting.

This isn't to say that they were perfect, but the band revealed themselves to be something that we've been missing: a quality corporate-rock hitmaker. I know, I know: they're indie! But hear me out: remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!

Album tracks like "Harmonix" sounded so sprightly and confident that by the time they hit the main stretch of should-be classics like "Twin Peaks" and "Floating Vibes" they were making it look easy. And the handful of new tracks played, of which "I'm Not Ready" sounds like a viral smash already, you can see that they're gaining steam. Based on Astro Coast I could go either way as to whether this is a band to watch, but seeing Surfer Blood take the stage and show they're farther along than I'd ever have thought they'd be. After just one year, my doubt stands corrected. Anyone who misses when you could count on Weezer for great jams should check out their show.

The Drums on the other hand, amid a similar type of hype, were far less amazing, but at least twice as fascinating. With singer Jonathon Pierce, whose stage presence comes off like Britt Daniels were Daniels the world's biggest Morrissey fan, the band worked the stage like showmen that were so used to greatness that they were bored by it. They were theatrical and to some extent seemed to be winking out a joke that you could only guess the content of, their cloudy July day new-wave inflected beach-pop had some successful points, it'd be nice to see the sound expand to catch up with their onstage chemistry. I know: I'm missing the point of the minimal Joy Division grooves meeting 50s melodies (as Pierce put it, almost reading my mind "It's just pop music, have fun with it--you don't have to try and dissect it") but they're the kind of professional, workmanlike band that you could see accomplishing anything they want, so it'd be swell if they could aim higher than an unsmiling joke that only they're privy to. For a few minutes of "Let's Go Surfing" they did. Let's get some more of that, boys.

SEE ALSO: www.kaninerecords.com/surferblood/
SEE ALSO: www.thedrums.com

--
Cory Tendering
No biographical information is currently available.

See other articles by Cory Tendering.

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