For a band that lost a guitarist only a week into their massive US tour, The Drums were an energetic, charismatic and entertaining bunch when they played ND on Saturday. It’s as if Adam Kessler’s departure hadn’t phased them at all. This of course, is not true. Lead singer Jonathan Pierce has repeatedly explained to the media that the group was “devastated” upon learning that Kessler wanted out of The Drums. However, the fact that they performed with the same energy and showmanship that has come to define them showed that they were not about to let a personnel change jeopardize their music’s impact on a sold out crowd.

The Drums are a band that walk the fine line between endearing and saccharine, both in terms of their music and their antics onstage. It’s obvious that Pierce’s lyrical influences lie with the sentimental, heart-on-sleeves bands that made it acceptable for sensitive guys to make music back in the early and mid-80’s. He sang his songs of love, longing, and heartbreak by the beach with a faux-British accent, and his onstage movements mirrored those of a Smiths-era Morrissey in their tweeness and Ian Curtis in their spontaneity. His swagger ran the gamut from pretending to drag off of a cigarette during the excellent “Let’s Go Surfing” to his robot like arm movements at the beginning of “Best Friend.” In the hands of other groups, these sorts of antics could come off as posturing or trying too hard to emulate the bands of yesteryear.

However, for all of their theatrics, it was not hard to tell that The Drums were sincere about what they were doing. The band’s cuteness was endearing, and the fact that they have to the tunes to back up their onstage presence only made the performance that much more memorable.

Replacement guitarist Tom Haslow fit right in, and he ably played all of Kessler’s lines without fuss. This allowed songs such as “Make You Mine,” ‘Forever and Ever, Amen,” and “Submarine” to keep their depth and their hooks, something the band has no shortage of. Throughout their set, they did not mention their departed guitarist once, instead choosing to focus on ensuring that the crowd bounced along to their blend of new wave and beach pop. By the time the band took their final bow at the end of set closer (and future prom slow-dance anthem) “Down By the Water,” there were no longer any concerns about whether Kessler’s departure would have any negative impact on The Drums’ sound or performance.

The Drums: