LIVE: Drug Church / Night Letters @ Boston Music Room, London

By Renette van der Merwe

Drug Church front man Patrick Kindlon smiles approvingly after the final note of ‘Banco Popular’ – the first song of the set – before taking a jab at himself for not being as energetic between songs as other front men might be, and wishing he was on Tom Cruise’s level. We laugh, like we would when a buddy tells a joke, because that’s the tone of tonight’s show – an experience shared among friends.

The irony of Kindlon’s statement, however, lies in the surge of energy he exhumes every time the band ferociously launches into a song. Like Sue Storm’s invisible force field, Kindlon presents his gusto in a similar outward force of command that radiates from within him before rippling through the entire venue – the latter being perfectly suited to tonight’s proceedings.

Boston Music Room’s narrow room lends itself well to the spirit of underground punk that this band, along with support act Night Letters, encapsulate so well. It’s intimate and sweaty and bodies are packed in tightly enough to double as a safety net for a steady stream of stage divers, but also expands as soon as the need for a circle pit arises. Which, between you and me, is often, as the band tear through the setlist.

Seven out of eleven songs are from last year’s ‘Cheer’, their breakthrough third album which proved to be a favourite on many 2018 Albums of the Year lists. ‘Avoidarama’, ‘Grubby’, and ‘Strong References’ get a killer reaction, but it’s the album’s lead single and final song of the night ‘Weed Pin’ that truly puts the climactic cherry on top. The phenomenal sound renders the recognisable first riff of the song crisp and intoxicating, causing bodies to thrash along one final time.

The setlist, also including older songs like ‘Bagged’ and ‘Drunk Tank’, is short, but so are espressos, flights from London to Amsterdam and, incidentally, Tom Cruise, and we fudging love all of those things. There’s also no encore tonight, because with Drug Church, there’s no pretence. You get what you see and what you see is a group of guys playing hard and fast, without fuss and bullshit, but with the intention of making sure everyone is having as great a time in the crowd as they’re having on stage.