Concert Reviews

The War On Drugs w/ Andre Ethier at Lee’s Palace – April 15, 2014

Photographs by Sarah Rix.

Thankfully Adam Granduciel and his cohorts in The War On Drugs don’t easily fall to subtle hints.

Last night the Philadelphia band closed a sold out Lee’s Palace. A couple of crazy happenings would have had a lesser band clearing out of town early.

Monday night the band played a sold out show at the Horseshoe Tavern and what a difference a day makes; the mercury dipping 25 degrees in 24 hours!

Less than half an hour before local artist Andre Ethier was due to take the stage in the opening slot, a power outage darkened large pockets of the city, including Lee’s. After an hour though, the stars finally aligned and power was restored to the immediate area. I had my own internal debate about how long I would hang about waiting for word either way, as I’m sure all parties did, but in the end am I glad we all agreed.

By the end of the year, the band’s third album, Lost In The Dream, will place in many year-end Best of 2014 lists. The album hasn’t gripped me like its predecessor Slave Ambient, but then it’s still pretty fresh and needs some more time and listens to spread its tentacles through my brain.

For me The War On Drugs recall an Americana version of Spiritualized. Seeing them for the first time last night I found the two bands more kindred spirits than I initially thought and would make a most excellent touring combo.

Opening with new track “Under The Pressure”, Granduciel and his five bandmates quickly locked in for a seriously tight set that centered on Lost In The Dream, playing all but one track. The live setting gave the songs a new life with some extra muscle really underscoring what a solid rock band this is. The sound was pristine and only got better for me as the volume intensified over the course of the evening/morning.

A highlight, aside from every song, was seeing the band having fun. Granduciel seemed genuinely thrilled to be playing and seemed oblivious to the shocking temperature drop outside or the blackout that threatened to derail the evening.

His guitar playing was impressive with a very generous dose of solos. I could only think of the Neil Young and J Mascis fans that would have been in heaven. A healthy dose of Slave Ambient was offered as reward for those who stuck around to catch the full set including a lovely “Brothers” which commenced an odd encore (only Granduciel and the drummer left the stage).

Clearly this band is on the verge of greatness and it’s doubtful they’ll be playing venues this small by the end of the year. Give these guys a budget for some lights and projection and they’ll carry over to the large stage with no worries

About author

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.