The Drums and Surfer Blood live

Drums co-founders Jonathan and Jacob bonded over Kraftwerk and The Smiths when they met as kids at boys camp

These growing buzz bands co-headlined Wednesday night at LA’s Henry Fonda.  I liked both at SXSW this year and both have improved another notch,  following a summer of playing out. The house was about two-thirds full, not bad considering the number of tours hitting LA right now.  The Drums’ “Let’s Go Surfing” and Surfer Blood’s “Floating Vibes” are both destined for my year-end top tracks list.

The Drums recently lost guitar-player Adam Kessler and they’re now a 3-piece with a side guitarist. The band would probably tell you they have rough edges to work out, but all was fine from an audience perspective. These guys have massive potential if they nail their second album. Singer Jonathan Pierce is a star. Both Jonnie and co-founding guitarist Jacob Graham have become more animated, and Conner Hanwick is a strong drummer. These guys know how to write great songs, but there is a certain sameness when hearing them back to back.  Their second album should really help with this. Given this sameness, it’s surprising they save beautiful, haunting ballad “Down By the Water” for the end rather than playing it earlier to mix things up. Hit up the Go Deep Music site to hear my SXSW interview with them.

Surfer Blood impressed me in March with their power. It seems that there is now more spice and variety in their show; although there is certainly a difference between seeing one of a band’s 10 SXSW gigs and viewing their major LA showcase. Singer J.P. Pitts has developed into a magnetic front man, and his band can play. Besides “Floating Vibes” the single “Swim” did well for them. I’d like to see them write more in the vein of these two songs as they “swim” forward.

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