In 2021, Twitter user Benjamin Deshawn Hoard posted a photo of himself looking glum and out of sorts while sitting on a replica of SpongeBob SquarePants’s bed. His caption read, “I Shoulda Never Smoke That Shit Now Im At Spongebob House.” That joke launched a meme, where other posters would superimpose Hoard onto increasingly absurd new backgrounds. Know Your Meme has cataloged some of the best—I particularly like the one where Hoard, having smoked that shit, finds himself replacing bassist Matt Sharp on the cover of Weezer’s Blue Album. The wacky dislocations that make the meme funny have also provided me with a visual language to describe the feeling I get when I listen to the stylistically madcap music of Philadelphia experimental pop duo Draag Me—a delirious mixture of disorientation, sadness, and wonder.
Draag Me grew out of trippy, cockeyed Philly indie-rock band Spirit of the Beehive: vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Zack Schwartz was working on material too loose and strange for that group, and he launched Draag Me as a solo project with the hazy 2020 album I Am Gambling With My Life. Since then, his Spirit of the Beehive bandmate Corey Wichlin has joined him in Draag Me, giving the music a little more structure and injecting new energy into its bonkers twists and turns. The songs on the August album Lord of the Shithouse (Doom Trip) careen downhill like an avalanche that sweeps up everything in its path—they might plow through trippy echoing synths, upbeat disco rhythms, and unsteady indie-rock singing. “Like a Nuisance” features all those elements, plus an increasingly urgent minute-long verse by Chicago rapper CRASHprez—one of a handful of guests whose sudden appearances unexpectedly reorient Draag Me’s music like a magician yanking a tablecloth out from under a full dinner setting. It’s just as shocking that Draag Me somehow stay grounded while teetering on the brink of chaos.
Draag Me Chanel Beads open. Mon 10/16, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, free, 21+