Show Pics: The War on Drugs @ Stubb’s (9/30)
NB: Saturday night was another one for the books as Austin was lit up as ever with great bands and crazy antics on Red River. My main event was at Stubb’s for The War on Drugs, touring incredible latest album, A Deeper Understanding. B. Gray was on double duty–taking killer shots of The War on Drugs and then bouncing over to The Mohawk to catch King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard. Follow the jump to see his pretty pics and read some brief thoughts on a night at the gravel pit.
BG: Click through, y’all.
NB: Due to various snafus, I managed to completely miss the set from Land of Talk–apologies to the band, and I hope to catch them next time.
BG: Sucks for you, Nicole. That all too brief set from Land of Talk was stunning. A fellow photographer that is a fellow, probably more severe, music nerd had never put time into the band and left the pit after the first three songs expressing great remorse he hadn’t. They focused on new material. And that was fine with me as it was elegant and beautiful with a tangle of ringing guitar and Elizabeth’s high register. My ear picked up “Some Are Lakes” while shooting as the only familiar track. I was in a blissful fog, so… #frenchhorn
NB: I’ve had the privilege of seeing The War on Drugs in various capacities over the years, be it festivals, an ACL taping, or a past time at Stubb’s. Each time I’ve seen them, no matter the size or scope of the venue, Adam Granduciel and company bring their americana inspired alt rock to the table and put it a step higher in the live setting. Saturday night was no exception to these past experiences with the band. They are through and through all business, but this is the perfect aesthetic for the music at hand. Rooted in soaring guitar solos and intimate lyrics, The War on Drugs are an impeccable live band. Their songs have natural breaks for guitar solos to be expanded and manipulated, but still be grounded in danceable choruses or in slow, tremendous builds of energy.
Opening with “In Chains,” had me stoked, as this is one of the brightest spots on the new album. Granduciel’s vocals rang out sharp as he rolled through the quick and contemplative lyrics. From here on, the night consisted of a no-nonsense, all business trip through the band’s new album and 2014’sLost in the Dream.The new tracks melded perfectly with the last release, and no-nonsense, all business, was a joy to behold. Granduciel remained rooted in his place, clutching his guitar and wowing us with his finesse and poise. My favorite tracks of the night were “Burning,” “Holding On,” “An Ocean In-Between The Waves and closer “In Reverse.”
The only slightly disappointing part of the night was the lack of back catalogue tracks fromSlave Ambient, but the instrumentation on that album strays a little from the vibe on the two more recent records, so I see why these tracks weren’t mainframe. The set was still chalk full of endless, perfect live music. Be sure to catch these transfixing gentlemen next time you can.
BG: I was truly impressed by the amount of thoughtful production to light the band and draw attention around the stage with Adam’s presence a strong focus, naturally. Props to the guitar techs as his pedal set up was a semi-circle of presets and knobs mounted to a myriad of backboards all feeding into a giant control system and two sets of competing amps. It was a constant dance switching tones and effects mid-song, mid-note.
NB: **Oh and hat’s off to the group of middle aged assholes who were standing in the middle of the crowd and talking at great volume through every single song of an otherwise beautiful and engaging set. Show-talkers, please just go to a bar and stop ruining shows. We get it: this is the only night a week you get to go out and your first concert of the year, but your back is to the band and I can hear every obnoxious word that’s coming out of your mouth. **
BG: Bonus coverage. I popped into Mohawk to get a few photos of the madness that was King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. People, you need to hydrate and stay sober enough to party. Puking on people’s shoes and getting kicked out cuz you can’t stand is not cool. You did it to yourself. Aside form that, every King Gizzard show is that intersection of mayhem and friendship. You’ll get kicked in the head and smile about it. The band doubles up on drum kits, vocals and guitars and not an inch of stage is left unused. Manic pleasantries.