The NME Awards Tour happens every year, housing gigs that range from household names to bands with dedicated mini-fanbases. This year we’ve seen a wide range of performances including Justice, SCUM,The Cribs, The Drums, and Alabama Shakes making their UK debut playing the annual ‘mini festival’ this year.
On the 26th March Brooklyn band The Drums headlined The Roundhouse, with support from fellow Brooklyner Devin and English roses Spector.
Suited and booted Dalston band Spector graced the stage, with front man Fred reaching for the microphone in an American accent and muttering his charismatic one liners, my guess is that the American accent came from being sandwiched between two American acts (previous support act was Devin, unfortunately, was missed)
Spector spun around into the big teaser ‘What You Wanted.’ Fred had some time to socialise hanging off the microphone and saying ”wassssup” in the most old fashioned act imaginable. Next came an unreleased song, ‘Friday night’, which was layered in thumping drums and hip thrusting; it sees the band slicking back their hair in an eternally over dramatic way as they build towards a now trademark Spector clap chorus, did I dare say anthemic?
The crowd were beginning to warm up by the time loud space fuelled ‘Grey Suit & Tie’ came along. Fred made a joke about being an under fourteens show, I agree all the way, the crowd looks revolting young, either than or being over the age of eighteen is no longer acceptable at gigs anymore. Spector went onto dedicated the rest of the set to the money, readers of NME and mothers.
‘Lie Low’ sees guitarist Dan enjoying himself more than the crowd with a little thrusting of the arms during the song while Fred has a Queen moment; ‘We will rock you’. ‘Lie Low’ is another big indie anthem, thundering in guitar solos and held in place the thunderous catchier-than-a-floating-condom ”Chevy Thunder.” For some reason crowd members were chucking condoms onto the stage, Fred casually picked them up and shoved them into his top pocket. By the time the set closer arrived Spector had the crowd eating out of their very own trousers, everyone had their hands in the air clapping away to clap-tastic ‘Never Fade Away.’
Spector managed to turn a stone cold crowd into a sway-away, heated crowd. This is exactly why Spector will be making waves this year, they’re a band that easily charm with their loud indie pop songs.
Play time over, The Drums are up next.
The Drums came on, said a little something and practically just bounced into the first song, ‘What You Were’, as Jonny’s awkwardly dance shuffles and head bounces. The crowd were already nodding along, admiring The Drums, some for the millionth time, some for the first. You can always spot a newbie, with the pointing towards the stage and the dreadful small step dance moves. By the time ‘Best Friend’ came along, The Drums were warming up the room with the red baring lights, while the crowd grasped onto the ”you were my friend and then you die” line, it’s almost unforgettable how much that lyric goes down live, a real fist pumper.
”Money” has become the ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ of Portamento, getting the crowd swaying as pints spill over the crowd, with everyone screaming ”I don’t have money” most may actually have none, some may have had a purse full, just like the East London, rich kids acting poor, cool right? The Drums are cool, the way the band lightly chuck themselves across the stage with their sullen demeanour, occasional baring a toothy smile, and the odd ”thank you” in between songs. ’Forever And Ever Amen’, ‘Book Of Revelation’, and ‘Book Of Stories’ are an absolutely wet dream live, the band have fun, the crowd dance around. A win-win situation.
Then surprise, guess who walks on? The legendary Boy George, who walked on stage to a phenomenal response in his trademark purple fedora hat. The crowd went berserk bar the odd person saying ”who is that?” and “What the f**k?”. George’s entrance fell right into the rather heartfelt song ‘If He Likes It, Let Him Do It’ – no coincidence surely? George tried his best to compete with Jonny’s moves, he fell flat, as did his singing, not that the crowd were allowing anyone to hear him sing, loud and clapping at all times.
Awkward hug over, should have been a kiss.
Jonny himself had said it was an honour to perform with George, and the otherwise emotionless Drums front man, looked completely caught in the moment by repaying the favour and singing the Culture Club hit ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me’, rather enthusiastically. Boy George has always been a fan of The Drums, even before the band had set foot on the UK stores, by commenting on how London and The Smiths the band were and declaring his unconditional love towards them. ‘Down By The Water’ hits a nerve emotionally, body creeping, sad, and yet loveable to the point of wishing the tears would back away. The track was dedicated to a certain Pixie Geldof, also in the crowd, getting emotional.
By the time the encore came around, looking around, everyone was rushing with indie pop adrenaline, sweaty from the head downwards, not sure how far down, would not dare touch. Lights out, people start to walk away, crazy, the Roundhouse lights had not come on, and the show was not over.
The band gingerly came back on stage, to much more noise and the clock read 10.18pm.
Did they? Did they? You ask, did The Drums play the internet sensation? Yes. The Drums went for it, turning the whole of the Roundhouse into a sea of head pumping with mouthfuls of STD like words. Suffice to say “Let’s Go Surfing” evoked a fit of frenzied madness.
The Drums ended on the psychedelic ‘Searching For Heaven’ the stage was empty and dark with only synth player Jacob for company, Jonny hanged his model like a ballerina doll in a jewellery box being stoned by the light. Picture the white light that is supposed to appear before death, a scary, mind blowing presence, and just like that, the band was gone.
The Drums played a mixture of tracks from both albums, mostly leaning on the newer album Portamento, but that didn’t stop them from performing the internet sensation ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ the song the band hate even as far as calling the song ”nonsense”, but not for tonight, The Roundhouse got a treat.
Once again, having returned to London they tore the stage apart, a stage that should that have been built from them and their awkward dancing and depressive lyrics cheered up by the dramatic key changes. I for one am highly looking forward to more Drums, in the mean time, look out for festival dates in the UK this summer. Simone F