THE DRUMS + SLOW HOLLOWS @ THE FONDA THEATRE
Photos by Leslie Kalohi Words by Zach Bilson
“They said night two would be the craziest, but you guys are just nuts!” This was the most dialogue we received from The Drums’ frontman Jonny Pierce all night – two songs into their third packed night in L.A., it was clear their rabid fans meant business.
A number of fans had been at all three shows, camping out for the whole day to be up front with Pierce and his cohorts. To be fair, it’s hard not to want to catch his disease – from the top of their set “Best Friend”, he gyrated, gesticulated, and held out the mic for the crowd to sing into, which they did for every song of their nearly two-hour set.
Part of the magic of their live show is the lack of a bass player – guitarist Johnny Aries took out a four-string for a handful of songs, but his and Tom Haslow’s twin guitar riffs propelled the group through most of the night, making for a remarkably tight rhythm section themselves. Though they were shy on tracks from this year’s Abysmal Thoughts, crowdsurfers still came out in droves for “Heart Basel” and recent single “Blood Under My Belt.”
But it was hook-stuffed classics like “Money” and the era-defining “Let’s Go Surfing” that had us singing wall-to-wall like a tween gospel choir, Pierce atop the seething mob like an ecstatic preacher. And like the kindest messiahs, The Drums went above and beyond for their followers, stretching their encore into a full second set. From the rapturous looks on the faces of the crowd, they could’ve handled a third – or another three whole nights.
Melancholy L.A. troupe Slow Hollows opened the show more ornately, with singer/guitarist Austin Feinstein supported by not only a guitar-bass-drums rock band, but sax, trumpet and synths, adding a lush bed to their jangle-pop anthems. There was a solid amount of crossover in their and The Drums’ fanbases – opening track “Spirit Week” raised a chorus of squeals, as did “Again” and thrashing deep cut “The Political Kids.”
Feinstein himself has attracted a rabid fanbase – early in the set, a scream of “I love you Teeks!” (his Instagram handle) garnered a good amount of applause. But the most eyebrow-raising part of the set came in the form of a sprawling new track, featuring plaintive piano, psychedelic guitar, and abstract lyrics – not unlike Frank Ocean’s latest work, which Feinstein had a hand in. Like Ocean, Slow Hollows are showing enough prowess and vision to break off from the pack and pave their own road.