War on Drugs | 10.12.14

warondrugsWar on Drugs is not a band to miss the next time they come to town.


Ready Room, St. Louis

Philadelphia’s War on Drugs burst into town in the middle of their tour for one of this year’s contenders for Album of The warondrugsYear, Lost in the Dream. Band leader Adam Granduciel certainly was not lost in a dream, but the attendees of the packed Ready Room may have been, as WOD brought its “A” game and wowed the audience through the night. Those lucky enough to have attended were treated to two hours of dreamy, hazed-out jams from an incredibly tight band—when people were not frantically checking their phones for Cardinals game updates.

As to be expected, the set was heavy with cuts from the new album. That is not a complaint in any way, as Lost in the Dream came across as even more powerful live. Granduciel tore through solos with a passion like he wanted the listeners to feel every note; he wanted us to feel the angst and depression that inspired the album. His delivery felt genuine and heartfelt. The band weaved in several of the stronger songs from 2011’s damn near perfect Slave Ambient, and surprisingly played several songs off of 2008’s overlooked Wagonwheel Blues. WOD provided a slow, more down-tempo song every so often to give the crowd a break—not that any of these songs were weak; quite the contrary. These tracks allowed us to see and hear the musical talent Granduciel has on guitar. Many times, it’s harder for musicians to play a long, slow solo, as they can’t hide behind 360-notes-per-minute riffs. Interestingly, one of the highlights was the use of various horns run through different distortion filters. They added just an incredible sound and rounded out the mix.

As mentioned, the band was in tight form. The drums from Charlie Hall felt rather thunderous at times, and Dave Hartly’s bass added an excellent back groove to the songs. The interplay between the keys and the distorted horns was rather nice, adding to the overall dreamy, almost ethereal nature on Slave Ambient and parts of Lost in the Dream. The sound at the Ready Room was crisp and clear, allowing listeners to not only distinguish Granduciel’s guitar from the rhythm guitarist’s, but also to hear every other instrument. Some of the highlights of the night included “Come to the City,” “Under the Pressure,” “An Ocean in between the Waves,” and “Red Eyes.”

Things got off with a great start from Peter Matthew Bauer, formerly of the Walkmen, showcasing songs from his debut release Liberation!. He and his band delivered an impassioned 30-minute set of Springsteen meets Elvis Costello meets English pub rock. His backing band, the Devourers, featured Skyler Skjelset from the Fleet Foxes, making this a band to keep an eye on. Color me impression with what was presented. | Mike Koehler

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