Live Review: The Drums at The Showbox (8/8/18)

Live Reviews
words by Johnny Boddy
photos by Joel Simard

The Showbox was the last stop for The Drums on their U.S. tour following their latest melancholy alternative pop release Brutalism. As excitement built before The Drums took the stage, I reflected on the narrative of alternative music. If music matters, alternative music may matter the most, especially in today’s climate.

The Drums took to the stage playing an old fan favorite, "Days." Lead singer, writer, and producer Johnny Pierce’s voice croons over a thumping bassline as the crowd cheers and begins a sway-and-nod dance. The Drums lyrics are introspective, their sound melancholy;  they perform songs about break ups, self-loathing, growth. "Body Chemistry" off Brutalism begins, smoothly blending in with their old work because of its familiar bass driven undertones. Shortly after Johnny gave a heartfelt performance of Book of Stories off their self-titled debut.

I thought my life would get easier,
Instead it's darker, instead it's getting colder
Without you 


A beat after the song ends Johnny smiles and says, “It is really nice when a song you wrote ten years ago can still resonate with your heart.” As a fan this is also how it feels listening in, the soundscape you step into invites you back in like an old memory. Although Johnny described his new album as therapeutic self-growth, he admits he still does not have it all together.

Johnny spoke of a young fan that had hugged him before the show and told him to “be great” – it was a simple gesture that moved him enough to encourage everyone that night to do the same. In the spirit of progress and passing good will on, he urged the crowd to support the openers by purchasing their merch. “The Drums have been around for a long time,” he says, “we will be fine. Maybe buy a sticker from us, then show them some love.”


I feel the need to point out Johnny Pierce’s story: growing up home-schooled by conservative Christian parents who alienated and ostracized his queer identity. Not to pigeonhole Johnny as a queer artist, but to celebrate his identity in relation to their music. It is Johnny’s experience of standing on the outside that draws in crowds of alternative youth seeking a place to belong. It is about welcoming all into that space where we encourage each other to be great.

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