When you live in Des Moines, Iowa, a small city right on I-80 within 4 hours from 3 bigger cities, and only 5 from Chicago, it’s basically a given that you will travel for shows. And it’s also extra exciting when the shows come to Omaha, making your commute only TWO hours each way! Sadly, even this doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, which meant I’d been counting down and looking forward for months for Drug Church’s (along with Movements, Boston Manor, and Trash Boat) appearance at The Waiting Room in Omaha last Saturday, April 27th.
I had the pleasure of discovering this band two years ago at my first time at Punk Rock Bowling in 2017. They were one of the first bands to play, and I remember really enjoying their set, even though their hardcore sound definitely clashed with the bright, noontime Vegas heat and the smaller, early crowd who was projecting a less-aggressive vibe as we sought shelter in the shade. Yet, despite this less than ideal setting, Drug Church was one of the bands I went home and made a point to check out further after being impressed by the entire band’s energy, and also the cleverness of the lyrics (my biggest draw to a song every time). Wilting in the heat of my first PRB (and duh, not missing a single moment of any band), I especially latched on to the song “But does it work?,” in which singer, Patrick Kindlon forlornly lists a bunch of things from the “supermarket line” to relationships between any gender that don’t work and then screaming about these “variations of a theme” (that don’t work). Two years later and I still fucking LOVE that song, and have it reserved as my go-to to crank and yell anytime I’m in an “absolutely everything sucks” mood.
Since that first show (for me) Drug Church seems to have been moving up in fan base and recognition. At the end of 2018, I remember seeing their third album, Cheer, listed in multiple year-end, best of lists (including my favorite group, The Onion’s AV Club), and it definitely made mine. Most of the songs alternate between quieter, build up moments and then rock the fuck out, with stellar lines like “I should have started a chemical fire” (in regards to a shit $15/hr job-WHY did I never think of that line??) in “Weed Pin” or the strangely-catchy “If you live long enough, you’ll do something wrong enough” (like push people down stairs or steal money) in the chorus of “Unlicensed Guidance Counselor.” And I was THRILLED that I was actually going to see these songs live, and this time in a dark, indoor venue.
Fast forward to the show, and I’m standing towards the back of a decent-sized crowd after arriving 10 minutes before showtime with my husband and a friend. None of us had heard of any of the other bands, but I never go to shows late anymore after having my heart broken almost a decade ago when my favorite band, The Bouncing Souls, played a show in Chicago with The Lawrence Arms and let the hometown guys headline. I arrived late and missed the first half of their set. Never again!! Which would have happened this time because Drug Church played first! They brought the energy I remember seeing at PRB, and the sound was much clearer, as would be expected in an indoor vs outdoor venue. My only complaint was that they only played about thirty minutes, but that’s to be expected from the opening slot to be followed by three more bands. I did get to hear my anthem, “But does it work?” though!
Afterwards, we left to check out some of the bars down the street and came back, so I’m still a little fuzzy about whether or not I saw Trash Boat. I know I saw Boston Manor though, because I remember thinking it was a funny name for a band of guys with British accents, and that I also saw Movements because they finished the show. And the all-ages crowd LOVED them. Maybe I need to listen to the radio more, or maybe this is another example of how lots of people make sure to check out the music of the openers on spotify, amazon, whatever in anticipation of a show? I’m old. I have yet to do this, even though I totally get that in doing so, I could appreciate the entire show more, and/or even get into a new band. Another aspect about the crowd that caught my attention was that there was no circle pit! For any of the bands! At one point during Drug Church’s show, Patrick said something to the crowd about how we were all so “nice” and that we all got quiet in between songs. He then asked us to be quiet so we could hear ourselves blink. Thankfully(?), a girl in the crowd yelled out “fuck yeah” at our quietest, so maybe we didn’t completely fall into the well-mannered midwesterner stereotype?! He later told us to keep “nicely bouncing” to their songs. And we did. It was the weirdest thing!!
(For the record, I’ve seen NOFX, The Bouncing Souls, Anti Flag... play in Omaha. They had circle pits) As the night progressed and the venue filled up more, the wildest the crowd got was to have a ton of people stage dive, after being encouraged by one of the bands, but no circle pit! Maybe it’s an all-ages show thing?
This tour will continue heading East through May, and Drug Church will be back at Punk Rock Bowling Memorial Day Weekend to play on one of the main stages as well as a club show. Since I’m used to traveling for shows anyway, of course I’ll be there!