The 3 Best Drummers + Vocalists in the World

A few nights ago, I found myself in a South Minneapolis DIY spot on a sticky, humid summer night. The basement venue, known as The Riverboat to the Twin Cities’ dread-skulleted punk denizens, was so hot we all dripped and drooped like melting candles.

“You know that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire, where they’re watching TV, and someone’s getting their face smooshed around like it’s clay and all the kids are grossed out? That’s what my face feels like right now,” I confided to Jen Lemasters, a record store owner and multi-media artist who, like me, had traveled all the way to Chicago just end up at the same dank basement.

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Photo of Make-Overs from Bric-a-Brac’s Instagram

She & partner, Nick, who own Bric-a-Brac Records, were criss-crossing the country with South-African drummer and guitarist Martinique Pelser and Andreas Schönfeldt, stopping at flea markets to hunt collectible toys and kitschy roadside attractions to pose with outré art installations. When they’re not touring together, Martinique and Andreas tour by Megabus.

Later, after a kind Riverboat resident sold me a $2 Hamm’s well into Minneapolis’ Blue Law Sunday Beer Blackout (then traded it out for one that didn’t have puke on it), Make-Overs took over their designated corner of the basement. They quickly sound checked their signature equipment: an array of pedals at Andreas’ feet, a microphone headset snaked around Martinique’s ear.

As the band tore through their layered, spacey and raw arrangements, the audience forgot the insufferable heat and slammed into each other in surging tides, smearing sweat on each other and pressing wallflowers into the crumbling basement bricks. They traded off vocal duties, Martinique more than holding her own despite the more physical nature of drumming, her powerful vocals ringing out, occasionally distorted by pedals into something psychedelic and alien.

I started thinking about all the drummers out there who excel at maintaining vocal intensity even as they exert themselves pounding away. I came up with my all time top drummers + vocalists, who are, in no particular order:

  • Bill Roe of Cococoma (and the record label Trouble in Mind)
  • Lamont “Bim” Thomas of Obnox, BLAXXX, The Puffy Areolas, etc
  • Martinique Pelser of Make-Overs (as well as many earlier projects discussed in this great interview)

And that got me thinking about how lucky we are that 2/3 of these artists have upcoming shows in Chicago. Cococoma, coaxed into reuniting and brushing up on their old songs when their longtime friends Janet and J.J. tied the knot last February, are hanging up the hat again when guitarist AJ Cozzi moves to California. Tomorrow, they’re playing their last official show at The Empty Bottle as an aftershow for the Beyond the Gate show in Bohemian National Cemetery.

Make-Overs are making the most of their stop in the USA, with at least two more shows upcoming in addition to their duties opening for Ty Segall last week.

Whether you agree or disagree with my top three ranking (make no mistake, I’d love to hear about it in the comments), you should see these bands while you can.

Cococoma, Ultimate Painting
The Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western Avenue
Thu, September 10, 9pm / 21+ / $10

Make-Overs, Wolf Pac
The Whistler, 2421 N Milwaukee Ave
Sun, September 13, 9pm / 21+ / free

Pookie and the Poodles, Make-Overs
Bric-a-Brac Records & Collectibles, 3156 W Diversey Ave
Tue, September 22, 5:30pm / free / AA

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