When you think of Christmas music, Philly smooth-wave band Work Drugs might not immediately come to mind—with their glistening, seductive beats and lyrics inspired by boating. Yet consider it from a different angle—that Christmas is about relaxing, and spending time with loved ones—and it’s actually a perfect fit. No one inspires laidback grooving, or indulgent prancing, quite like Work Drugs, and swaying along to their sparkling beats with a whiskey in hand and good friends at your side feels like the perfect celebration indeed.
And so it went Saturday night at Johnny Brenda’s, when the band hosted their second annual Christmas spectacle and an evening of feel-good vibes. Outside, a storm raged on, but inside the air felt warm and inviting, as the band sang, danced, and shook their way through an hour of lustrous chillwave, drawn from their massive discography.
A duo at its core, the band’s live line-up included five, and sometimes six musicians, whose sultry back-up vocals floated through the air like snowflakes. Tunes like “West Coast Slide” and “Boogie Lights” inspired the dance moves for which they were named…and by the time the band reached its new holiday tune “Never Gonna Be Alone on Christmas,” the venue was filled with dancing couples, drunk on positive energy (and maybe a few beers.)
The band closed its set with a cover of Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” that proved as powerful as it was danceable—before ending finally with “License to Drive.” Leaving the venue that night the air was still frigid…but filled with the holiday spirit, I confess I barely noticed.