The Drums / Surfer Blood Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC October 5

The Drums / Surfer Blood Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC October 5
On paper, the Drums and Surfer Blood have a lot in common: both are breakout indie bands supporting buzz-worthy debut albums, and both have been erroneously labelled as surf rock thanks to their aquatic imagery and Floridian origins. In reality, however, the two groups reside at opposite ends of the indie rock spectrum: while the Drums revel in melodrama, Surfer Blood prefer to play it straight, favouring meaty guitars over showy theatrics.

The Drums opened their set with an eerie ambient jam, cuing up a swelling synth loop that burst suddenly into "It Will All End in Tears." With a live drummer replacing the electronic beats of the album, the band sounded explosive, closer to ominous goth rock than the usual fey jangle pop. On "Best Friend," singer Jonathan Pierce showed off his Morrissey-esque warble and unleashed some impressively flamboyant, wriggling dance moves. Ever the consummate performer, the frontman kept his shiny red jacket on for the entire set, despite getting so hot that he had to towel off after every song. They closed with the down-tempo "Down by the Water," a massive drumbeat and exaggerated crooning bringing the performance to an effectively overwrought conclusion.

Surfer Blood initially struggled to match the Drums' energy. The audience thinned out slightly during the changeover, and opening cuts like "Fast Jabroni" and "Twin Peaks" were a little limp. Things picked up with the '90s-rocking "Floating Vibes," however, and the mood reached its peak on the pummelling single "Swim."

The also encore got off to a shaky start, as fans began filing out while frontman JP Pitts flubbed his way through a cover of Guided by Voices' "Game of Pricks." Thankfully, his bandmates rescued him as they joined Pitts on stage and blazed through a jittery version of "Neighbour Riffs." It was an uplifting way to cap off the evening, even if Surfer Blood weren't quite able to match the Drums' infectious charisma.