Late July humidity filled the open-air room adjacent to the bar at Indiana City Brewing Company, and the house lights stayed up all night, resulting in a thick and bright quality in the venue last Thursday. The glass doors between the bar and the event space remained closed the entire show, and the docking doors in the space opened out to the ramp to provide a private entrance to the event. It gave the impression heshers and headbangers should be partitioned from the standard Thursday night beer-drinking patrons. I can’t say I blame them, but I’m glad I was on the noisy side of the door.
Drude played their show-stealing set in between Liquid Signal (Sabbath-worship from Kotus, Indiana) and Spirit Adrift, who traveled all the way from Phoenix for the gig. The Indianapolis-based three-piece is a local favorite, formed in 2009 under the name Burn the Army, and released The Tide to Sink the Summit in October 2014. Following their transformation into Drude, they released their self-titled album on March 3, 2017 which contains their eponymous song. They played this work in its entirety, though out of order, on August 26th.
The time and effort that Drude spent on their songs was immediately apparent. All parts were singularly engaging, interlocking beautifully with dynamic bass lines, diverse guitar approaches, and inspired drumming. The range of styles result in songs that grab onto listeners, dragging them up out of themselves, pulled by caressing leads that instill longing and pick-ups that sprinkle hope between phrases, only to be dropped unceremoniously through seamless transitions into riffs that slam downbeats or hammer out galloping sixteenth note forays. The Americana twang that bleeds into some of the clean motifs in intros and outros contrasts against the sludge-drenched, gooey center of the songs for an auditory journey full of surprises.
All three musicians contributed vocals, and while their delivery varied, they are all fundamentally similar. Guitarist Jordan Smith’s vocals particularly stood out, alternating between roles as a gravel-throated demon and imploring harbinger. Corey Clark, whose despondent banter as front man belies his passionate musical execution, had a more emotive and melodic vocal style that was desperately plaintive. Drummer Dyllen Nance enthusiastically shouted up bits of his lungs into the mic at the beginning of the set, powerful and aggressive. Vocals were prominent on the opening and closing songs, “Oasu” and “Drude,” but the midsection of the set was largely instrumental. For example “Demur,” which Drude played solidly in the middle of their set, has only a Bertrand Russell quote for lyrics. This bookended the performance in an interesting way, and I understand why they saved “Drude” for last – it’s their strongest song, and it also highlighted just how much energy Dyllen Nance pours over his drum set — he was almost too out of steam to project his voice by the end.
“There can’t be a practical reason for believing what isn’t true. At least I rule it out as impossible. I either think it is true or it isn’t; If it is true you should believe it. If it isn’t, you shouldn’t. If you can’t find out whether it’s true or it isn’t, you should suspend judgment. It seems to me a fundamental dishonesty, a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it’s useful and not because you think it’s true.”
–Bertrand Russell, 1959
A frenzy on the drums, Dyllen looked stoked to be on stage the entire time, even when he was pronounced dead by his bandmates right before the finale. Drums are an integral part of the mechanism Drude uses to fit melodies together and make transitions seem so effortless, and Dyllen was a blur of movement behind the set in his Spurs jersey — none of his cymbals had a moment to cease their shuddering. Meanwhile, fat, resonating tones from the bass guitar established a fecund bed and, with the structure granted by adroit percussion, gave rise to post-doom riffs that seem nearly comforting, encompassing the audience under an earth-shaking mantle — a filthy balm to soothe and sedate beneath the surface of bludgeoning and unpredictable waves.
Jordan’s acuity on guitar was immediately evident, moving from finger-tapped, intricate melodies to palm-muted barrages. He used a loop pedal in some sections to add vertical texture without flirting with anything remotely unstructured, and his melodies were all very linear, with few if any horizontal layers. Vertical layers abound, however; in addition to countermelodies on the bass and loop pedal, at one point Corey added harmonized vocals over Jordan, and their sung timbre disagreed lightly with their guitars, creating an eerily discordant aura.
The three distinct styles from the individuals in Drude meld together to form an intriguing tangle of unexpected rhythms, effortless transitions, and inspired leads, all powered by a frantic steam engine on drums. There really doesn’t seem to be a lead member; Corey acted as front, Jordan handled the business end when I requested permission to write about their performance, and Dyllen gave his very life on the stage. Having seen them twice now, it’s apparent to me why this Indy power trio is a hometown favorite, and if you get the chance to see them live, don’t miss it!
September 29 @ Black Circle w/Destroyer of Light.
October 4th @ Kuma’s Corner (Doomed and Stoned Fest Pre-Show)