Concert Review: The War on Drugs

April 24, 2014

131204-war-on-drugs-lost-in-dream-album-coverThe War On Drugs – maybe contradictory to its name – is a psychedelic indie rock band. The band was started by Bob-Dylan-wannabe Adam Granduciel, and it’s a smash between raspy, folky vocals and atmospheric My-Bloody-Valentine-esque reverb. Everyone in Altar Bar on March 22 couldn’t wait to get sober and start The War On Drugs, and so it felt like a chore to listen to the opener.

But the opener was fantastic. They also had that druggy MBV reverb, but less folk and more jams. After every song the audience broke into applause, half because it was a good song and half because everyone was surprised the opener actually played a good song. The lead singer made small talk after every song but drove me nuts because he never said the band’s name. It wasn’t until the end that he said, “We’re White Laces. Thanks!” Check them out.

The War on Drugs got on stage and started playing right after Granduciel said “Hey.” Surprisingly, they played a couple of their most well-known songs – “Baby Missiles” and “Red Eyes” – early on, and then delved deep into their new album, Lost in the Dream. Granduciel followed White Laces’ lead and made small talk: “Yeah, Pittsburgh is cool. What was the name of that breakfast place? With all the vegan stuff?” Someone shouted that that place shut down. “Oh. Then where’s the place to go? Pamela’s? That’s the shit? Cool.” After every other song Granduciel would say, “This song is for Julie,” “This song is for Rachel,” “This song is for Hannah,” but no one knew who these women were.

The band also explored past what’s on their studio albums. They played extended jams in the middle of a normally-three-minute song, which were the best parts of the show. At one point Granduciel said, “Yeah, this is a cover song,” but the guitars were so loud and lyrics so incomprehensible that I still have no clue what song they covered. Later they played a loud-but-recognizable rendition of John Lennon’s “Mind Games,” which everyone rocked out to. After this last jam, the band played a few calmer, folkier songs for everyone to peace out to before they peaced out, satisfied with their time participating in The War On Drugs.

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