As The Atomic Drops take the stage, conversations taper off, laughter recedes and a hush permeates the room. Lead vocalist Scott Terz looks around the stage and says, "This stage is really small. Usually I do all kinds of things up here." He shrugs and the band rips into the first song. The crowd stands, riveted, as the rest of the Drops bob, weave and duck, all the while keeping time, as Terz throws himself around the stage, using whatever space he can find.
The Drops have been tearing up the local music scene since 2006, playing with everyone from local punk favorites the Cheats to Valiant Thorr and the Supersuckers. In true grassroots fashion, their regional fan base seems to increase with every concert.
The Drops were influenced and inspired by classic-rock bands like Thin Lizzy, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, but their sound is harder, faster and more punk-driven. The fearsome fivesome consists of Terz, Luke Mitchell (lead guitar), Phil Irvin (guitar), Mike Lux (bass) and P.J. Hartwig (drums). They've all been members of various bands, including Born Ready, Tomorrow the World, Indifferents, Tuckermason, The Dynamos, Local Honey, Gutwrench, American Armada and Get to the Chopper.
The Drops are a group with few illusions; their dreams are not of rock superstardom. The guys live for rock 'n' roll, playing for people, and touring. "Music has always kept me happy," Hartwig says. Adds Irvin, "Good rock 'n' roll might save your soul one day." That's not to say that they wouldn't welcome a label's support. "Being picked up by an indie would be all right," Terz says. "We want to play shows and reach people,e and any distribution would be a big help."
On Sat., April 17, the Atomic Drops will bomb The Smiling Moose for the kick-off to their impending tour with The Highgears, which includes shows in New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio.
Although they've given the tour a brutally honest name -- The Atomic Drops Are Dead Broke Tour -- they hope to come out ahead and return with enough money left over to record a studio album. The tour ends May 8, at Belvedere's in Lawrenceville.
The Atomic Drops with The Highgears and Freddie T and the People. 8 p.m. Sat., April 17. The Smiling Moose, 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $5. 412-431-4668 or www.smiling-moose.com