The Drums, a one-man band fronted by Johnny Pierce, played at Paradise Rock Club on May 4th, promoting the release of Brutalism, the band’s second studio album with Pierce as their only member.
Johnny Pierce started his set off with Days, one of the first songs that put The Drums on the map almost 10 years ago. It was the perfect opening song – it energized the audience, making them eagerly bounce around the floor. For many audience members like myself, it was a reminder of what had made them fall in love with The Drums in the first place.
Pierce also played several songs off of Brutalism, including a cheerful rendition of “626 Bedford Avenue,” a song about a budding relationship going down the drain. But perhaps my favorite song from The Drums’ set was “Body Chemistry,” a song about Pierce’s own struggles with self-care and mental health. It’s a song that’s deeply personal to Johnny Pierce, who admits to having struggled with his mental health recently. The song shows Pierce struggling to explain his own mind, constantly wondering whether his DNA is to blame.
Pierce briefly paused his set to give a monologue on his personal experiences and his struggles with mental health, revealing that he’s always felt “a little on the outside” of the world. The concert, he said, was for anyone who’s ever felt like they’re living on the edge of society – like they’re not really a part of anything. After being reassured by their favorite singer that maybe they are going to be okay after all, the audience was filled with a newfound sense of hope. Pierce’s short speech changed the audience’s mood from good to better – upping the energy in the crowd.
The Drums finished off their set with a high-energy performance of “Blood Under My Belt,” leaving the audience begging for more. What astonished me and other audience members most about the Drums’ set was Johnny Pierce’s ability to give a cheerful, energetic performance despite some of the darker subject matter behind some of his songs. The capacity to produce lyrically powerful and often somber music that is still catchy and upbeat is a quality unique to the Drums – something that will surely help them gain popularity in coming years.