Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

I recently attended tHe drop's incendiary Bumbershoot performance at EMP's Skychurch. Unable to contact the band for comment, I decided instead to sit down and talk with a RANDOM FAN at the show. The first person I found, Michael X., seemed a perfect candidate, mainly because none of my questions came as a surprise to him, but also because he appeared intimately familiar with tHe drop and so was able to provide some synthesis to the situation, having been able to recover from his ethereal musical experience more quickly and completely than some of the other, less experienced attendants. Here is what he had to say.

ibMichael X: How long have you been listening to tHe drop?

Michael X: I'd have to say I first listened to tHe drop in '98, when they were still underground. They put out this EP called, Death Dreams and Abel that just took the local CD players by storm. Then they went big, signing with Seattle's Loveless Records in '99, and I've been following them ever since.

ibMichael X: What do you think has changed about them since those days?

Michael X: I'd have to say that, mainly, there's more songs. Oh, also frontman Christopher McBride has a new guitar. And there's a new bassist, Michael Lewis, so even though his bass isn't new, it's newer than the other guys' stuff, at least in terms of how long it's been in the band.

ibMichael X: Wow! That's some insight. Now that you've given us some key background information, how's about we talk about the show you just saw? First off, how was it?

Michael X: It was good.

ibMichael X: …

Michael X: …

ibMichael X: How good?

Michael X: Real good.

ibMichael X: Care to expand?

Michael X: I thought you'd never ask. This show was a special treat, because they were joined by cellist Phil Peterson, which allowed them to play a lot of the more intricate orchestral pieces from their new album, Iceland. I heard a lot of people commenting that they couldn't hear him, but I think that's mainly because he doesn't play what one might typically expect from cello in a rock band. His contributions are not emphases, but rather add another layer to the already complex melody. He allows the guitars to sound like guitars instead of having to sound like cellos.

Or it might be because they had their fingers in their ears.

ibMichael X: Fingers in their ears? What's up with that?

Michael X: Yeah, I see that a lot at drop shows. First of all, they're really loud. I think because the songs are so dynamic, being that loud allows them to settle down into a musical whisper and still be heard. And also, I think a lot of people that go to see tHe drop expect them to be pretty mellow, because Iceland initially sounds a lot softer than it really is. Live, everything is stripped down and thrust into the forefront, so it's a lot heavier than most people expect. Plus at this show, the mix was really treble-y, if that's a word. I don't know what happened there, but it was extra-piercing in here today.

ibMichael X: Let's talk about the stage show. How was it watching them?

Michael X: There's a lot to be said for a band that prefers to play in the dark. Sure, you can watch the band, but what they look like is kind of irrelevant, since the effect they're having is primarily sonic. I like the way tHe drop try to de-emphasize themselves and just kind of turn into the music. When a band creates an elaborate presence onstage, it focuses the audience all in the same direction. Members of tHe drop just kind of hang in the background, allowing each person in the audience to experience the parts of the music that really speak directly to them.

ibMichael X: That's pretty heady stuff. It's just a rock show, man.

Michael X: Yeah, I guess you're right. But it seems like so much more. I mean, tHe drop is just some local indie rock band playing a gig, I guess, but in that frame they don't really make any sense. Their music is so otherworldly and yet so internal. Each song feels like it just washes over you; it sounds so familiar, like you've heard it a thousand times, but only because they manage to find that wave that rides through each of our heads every morning when we wake up and realize that there's no way around living another day. Each song is an epic adventure in and of itself, but when they compound on each other the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. tHe drop is everyman, translated into poetry. Their music is like life — not in some grandiose way, but in a primal, how-can-my-life-be-meaningful-when-I-have-to-keep-working-this-desk-job-to-make-my-car-payment sort of way.

ibMichael X: Yeah, life can be so draining.

Michael X: Yeah, but I just can't let it go.