Live Reviews

Live Review: The War on Drugs – The Hifi, Melbourne (11.12.14)


Potentially being my last gig of the year, The War On Drugs certainly left their mark as one of my favourite shows of 2014 by playing a beautiful set of dreamy numbers that induced a spiritual experience I didn’t expect.

The War On Drugs is one of those bands that sit quietly on the fringe of the indie music scene. The Philadelphia band have been playing for almost ten years and have steadily created a name for themselves, however the group find themselves supported by a limited but very loyal fan-base, and watching them play demonstrated why this might be the case.

They create dreamscapes of beautiful melodies and repetitive beats that puts the listener into a dreamy and cathartic state. The strong repetitive drum beats and intricate guitar riffs supported >b>Adam Grunducial’s expansive guitar solos which monopolized the overall sound but done in a delicate way that demanded respect for its place rather than demonstrate any selfish desire byGrunducial to steal the attention. Trumpets and Trombones also made their appearance giving a boost to the overall sound giving it an additional dimension.

Personally, the dreamy landscapes induced a cathartic response in myself which was unexpected. I found myself closing my eyes and being completely absorbed and immersed by the music. I found myself unconcerned about what was happening on stage because it completely became about the music as it washed over me with an overwhelming power and this could be very well why the band struggle to find mass appeal. They skirt around the ‘shoegaze’ sound delicately while not completely immersing themselves in it, pulling back by their rock influence. As a result, they essentially fail to satisfy rock listeners and instead satisfy a select group of listeners that appreciate both rock and shoegaze influences.

While this may be the case, the group aren’t short of a loyal fan base. It was clear tonight that the majority of the punters at the HiFi were long-time fans who appreciated their unique sound and style of music. It was a night that fans came together to celebrate music creation at its best. All members of the band were completely involved in playing the music and barely spoke with the crowd throughout the one and a half hour show, but not in an uninterested manner but rather in a way that said ‘I’m here to play music and jam with my mates and you are all welcome to enjoy it with us’. This is what every gig should be like. It wasn’t a performance but rather an enlightening and enthralling jam that we got to witness and be part of.


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