This weekend I had the pleasure of going back to Santa Cruz to catch the rockers in Drain playing their hometown date of their west coast run with Momentum (LA Crossover) and No Right (SF Hardcore). This show took place at Caffe Pergolesi (Pergs), a coffee shop and music venue converted from an old Victorian style home that has played an integral part in the Santa Cruz hardcore scene over the past couple of years.
I remember seeing Drain for the first time about a year ago at Pergs after hearing about the show through word of mouth. Regardless of the ridiculous amount of heat entrapped by that small room and the stench of sweat from the sheer overcrowding of individuals in the tiny coffee shop, there was something about Drain that really captivated me from my first listen. Despite the heavy stigma that is often associated with both the style of music and lyrical content of hardcore and crossover, Drain has always been a band that breaks that tough guy stereotype that is so commonly associated with the genre that they play. From that first listen a year ago, I would never have guessed how impactful both the music and the individuals of Drain would be on my life a year later.
In a sense, things felt like they had come full circle as I shot Drain last Saturday night. Tim Flegal, the drummer of Drain, gave me a ride from Santa Cruz to Berkeley where I shot Mindset and Fury in January of 2016. This was the first show I’d ever shot and I often think about how different my life could have been if I had never shot that show and never found my passion for concert photography. I worked at the UC Santa Cruz dining hall with the pizza man Sammy Ciaramitaro, also the vocalist of Drain. Being able to sneak out of the dish room to have elongated talks with Sammy about hardcore punk rock was one of the only things that got me through my hellish eight-hour dining hall shifts. After developing a friendship with some of the members of Drain and watching them grow as both musicians and people before moving away from Santa Cruz, it felt extremely nostalgic watching Drain play arguably their craziest show ever, back at the same place where I had first seen them play.
The entirety of Drain’s twenty-five minute set felt like nothing less than one big party. As Drain rolled into the room, they tossed around In-n-Out and party hats, glow sticks, balloons, and streamers everywhere. And of course, as the Drain faithful know, it wouldn’t be a Drain show if they didn’t bust out the classic $10 Walgreen’s boogie boards, giving the term crowd surfing a very literal meaning. Drain played through their newly released EP, entitled Over Thinking, in its entirety. Over Thinking was recorded in June with Taylor Young (Nails, Twitching Tongues, Disgrace) at The Pit Recording Studio in Los Angeles. Drain incited an insane crowd reaction with nonstop crowd spongers, aggressively heartful singalongs, and a frequently knocked over drum kit, all resulting in one of the wildest Pergs shows yet. And of course they ended their set with their cover of the Go Go’s “We Got the Beat”.
“When the breakdown kicks, grab the person next to you, make out and have fun, lemme see some french kisses,” said Sammy right before Drain played their last original song entitled “Couldn’t Care Less”. I think this sentence alone speaks volumes for both who the individuals in Drain are as people and who they are as a band. In a genre fueled by anger and aggressiveness, Drain proves that through a positive mindset, a hardcore show can be fun and entertaining for everyone involved. We all as individuals deal with issues that burden us and weigh us down, and hardcore punk exists as an outlet through which bottled up emotions can be released. With every mumbled word, every ripping guitar lick, and every flying boogie board, Drain proves that these negative emotions can be released in a positive way through music. If you’ve never been blessed with the experience of being able to attend a Drain show, I highly recommend checking them out the next time they’re in town. Because for Drain, the tides are high and their swell is only getting bigger.
HD Pictures can be found on my Flickr – https://flic.kr/s/aHskMg63mn
Check out the video of the live set filmed by Kevin Burleigh – https://youtu.be/cGLQz8c8ASI
Check out Drain’s debut EP Over Thinking – https://drain831.bandcamp.com/
And catch Drain on Sunday December 11th at 924 Gilman opening for Cruel Hand
Written/Photos by Sam Jameson