Slave Ambient

The War On Drugs @ 9:30 Club - 4/18/14

The War On Drugs @ 9:30 Club - 4/18/14

Photo by Richie Downs

If we’re talking Rock ‘n’ Fucking Roll, one really shouldn’t complain that Philadelphia’s The War On Drugs delivered an almost two and a half hour set Friday night at the 9:30 Club. That’s the stuff of Springsteen-ian legend that people look back on years later and say, “I was there, man. I. Was. There.” And, in fact, the megalith of a show that Adam Granduciel and his cohorts delivered was an embarrassment of riches that showcased every era of the band; a crash course in how they got from there to this year’s unmitigated masterpiece, Lost in the Dream.

But man, was it some kind of awesome endurance test.

The set proper was book-ended by Dream’s “Under the Pressure” and “In Reverse,” a move that seemed appropriate given what would come between the two. Besides being the band’s best album to date, Lost in the Dream is also the logical culmination of everything that came before it for them. The winding river of The War On Drugs history that the set list took could not have made that fact any clearer.

LIVE: The Walkmen w/The War On Drugs @ The 9:30 Club - 10/4/12

The Walkmen have always been a band of sharp contrasts, and while on paper their pairing with Philadelphia psych-rockers The War On Drugs for a two night stand at The 9:30 Club might not have made all of the sense, in the end their tight, minimalist rock served as an appropriately raw yin to the Drugs more cosmically expansive yang.

Taking advantage of an already practically full house, The War On Drugs blasted through songs off of their most recent work, 2011’s Slave Ambient,  employing as many guitars as they could, as loudly as possible. Wrangling layer after layer after LAYER of sound into what ends up  a one man army of guitars, Granduciel’s insightful, Springsteen-esque lyrics were delivered bathed in an ocean of twin phasered sound, and what fascinates on record, squarely blows one away when taken in at the foot of the stage. Through songs like “Baby Missles,” “Your Love Is Calling My Name” and “Brothers,” the Drugs shredded not only ears, but the expectations of many in the crowd.

LIVE MUSIC: The War On Drugs @ The Jefferson Theater (CVille) - 3/8/12

“No shit... @warondrugsjams is everything that's right about rock n roll in 2012...or any year”

That’s the tweet I sent out between songs at the The War On Drugs in Charlottesville about a week and a half ago. It wasn’t the product of many beers, or some indie fanboy love of the band. It was the product of standing at the edge of the stage having one’s face consistently blown off by a group of musicians whose love for their craft apparently knows no bounds.

PRESS PLAY: War On Drugs - Brothers (video)

Sounds Like: Space Rock...from OUTER SPACE!; Kurt Vile
Why you should care: Slave Ambient was one of the best releases of 2011...this song was one of the main reasons why

In 2011 The War On Drugs sort of snuck up on everyone with Slave Ambient. It was an album full of giant guitars, even bigger hooks, and all swirling around the Dylan by way of Iggy Pop front man that is Adam Granduciel. It satisfied on nearly every level, and ended up on just about everyone's best-of lists for the year. And apparently it's unstoppable.

THING YOU MUST DO: The War on Drugs @ The Rock and Roll Hotel - TONIGHT!!!

If you've been paying attention to music at all this year, you already know that Philadelphia's The War On Drugs has been quietly taking over the indie music world one show at a time.

Their latest record, Slave Ambient (listen to it HERE) was roundly praised upon its release, and now at the end of the year you can't swing a stick without hitting a blog, publication or podcast that isn't including this slow burning gem on it's year end best of lists. And with good reason. The songs on Ambient are pretty squarely what My Bloody Valentine would sound like if fronted by Bob Dylan. Walls of feedback and reverb play behind singer/songwriter Adam Granduciel's folky drugged out delivery to create a sound that owes as much to the garage rock psychedelia of the late 60's as it does to the likes of  Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. 

The War On Drugs has already been through DC once this year in their quest for total world domination. That sold out show at The Red Palace (read our review here) not only saw NPR's Bob Boilen getting down like he was at one of Ken Kesey's acid tests, but also provided us with one of our favorite performances we've seen all year. Tonight the band moves up the DC venue ladder and to play at the (slightly) larger Rock and Roll Hotel and if you haven't already, you can get your tickets right here.

Look, we know it's a Sunday night and all, and hey, we love 60 Minutes as much as the next guy (actually, probably a little more...possibly unhealthily so) but whenever a band this good is playing a venue this size you sort of owe it to yourself to take advantage of the situation. We've embedded a couple of videos of the band performing in Copenhagen to help make your decision easier, but trust us when we say that this is one show that you do not want to miss.