Drive Like Jehu at The Independent for Noise Pop 2016, by Ian Young
Drive Like Jehu (photo: Ian Young)

Last Friday, famed ’90s post-hardcore act Drive Like Jehu graced an audience at The Independent in San Francisco with a sold-out show. The band performed a diverse range of songs during their performance, audaciously pleasing older fans to newcomers as well. For those up to speed with the inundation of recent reunions that audiences have been experiencing in the past few years, Drive Like Jehu is known for their impromptu reunion back in late 2014 for a performance in San Diego’s famous Balboa Park with the accompaniment of the park’s historic organ. Fans speculated that it would be a sole reunion show…but they were wrong.

LA-based Feels was the second opener of the evening and the first act I caught upon my arrival. The crowd seemed to gradually adjust to the act, which that included three female musicians — a diverse act that caught me by surprise and made me feel more at home in the male-dominated audience. A solid performance by the band proved entertaining for the time being, but everyone already had their eyes set on the evening’s final performers.

For those thinking cultural familiarity with Drive Like Jehu is the explanation for the large audience at Friday’s sold-out Noise Pop event, I’d like to prove otherwise. The band’s performance was suitable to the large venue and not just a niche fanbase — guaranteed to be an entertaining show for all. The band likened their well-crafted sound similarly to that of an orchestra, utilizing intricate tones that weaved distinctly into the heavily played music reverberating across the masses.

The performance started on a lighter note with the songs “Super Unison” and “Human Interest,” further warming up the audience to the rest of their set list. Major hits from their 1994 release Yank Crime and notably their performance of “Here Come the Rome Plows,” the album’s opening track, stuck out the most around the middle of their set. Fans familiar with their songs became energized once hearing the opening riff, setting off the energy that would carry the performance and its audience through the rest of the evening.

Upon the completion of their 10-song performance, the band abruptly walked off and began to prepare for the final performance that would comprise of the band’s most awaited songs. “Luau” ended the 20-minute encore with small audience in the front aggressively shouting along with the song’s final bridge, to my surprise. It was a feeble attempt to end the show with performer and audience unity that ultimately did not deliver in comparison to the rest of the set.

Leaving the audience with much to think about upon the completion of the evening, satisfaction seemed to echo across the room although the conclusion of the set fell short of expectation. Regardless of such opinion, the Noise Pop show proved to be an fulfilling evening to see a band return and attempt to build yet another return to glory.