I remember a time, not too long ago, when Philly space rock luminaries The War on Drugs could comfortably fit all their gear on the stage at Johnny Brenda’s with room to spare. But as their sound and scope has expanded, so has their spatial footprint, and I found myself at the foot of the Fishtown venue on Friday night, looking at the dozens of pedals cabled together and a veritable fortresses of keyboards, of amps and microphones and Charlie Hall’s drumkit tucked way back into the corner, wondering to myself how the heck this was going to work. Thankfully, the dudes pulled it off tremendously, and had enough room for founding member Kurt Vile to join the band for guitar shreddery on “Under the Pressure,” “Arms Like Boulders” and “I Hear You Calling.” Continue reading →
Music, food and culture app Supper recently sat down with The War on Drugs’ Robbie Bennett and Dave Hartley, to talk about their favorite places to eat and listen to music in Philly. They recommend spots from Chestnut Hill to West Philly and of course show some love for the burgers at Johnny Brenda’s. To hear more reccommendationss from the band read the full article over on Supper here.
Before heading overseas for a summer of European and UK festival dates, The War on Drugs stopped by the Late Show with David Letterman last night. The Philadelphia band performed a killer version of “Red Eyes” from this year’s Lost in the Dream LP, accompanied by Late Show house band leader Paul Schaffer. Check out the video below.
The anticipation behind this year’s Roots Picnic could have easily evolved into a self-fulfilling letdown of high expectations gone unfulfilled. Fortunately for the sold-out crowd of over 6,000, the day met every benchmark for a phenomenal musical experience.
With the newly-renovated and sand-strewn Festival Pier as its home base, the all-day festival boasted an eclectic line-up of both upstart and established acts of various genres. All acts shared the Questlove seal of approval, bearing a heavy emphasis on rhythm and sunny-day vibes.
Although every act of the day put on a frenzy-whipping set (the strongest of them being, arguably, a sunset-backed and pitch-perfect Janelle Monáe), there were a few noteworthy highlights:
- An inspiring group of sets in the first half of the festival (prior to most attendees’ arrival) with particularly strong ones from New Zealand RnB group Electric Wire Hustle, hip-hop/classical sequence-loops master Emily Wells, blues-rock guitarist and singer Roman Gianarthur (including soulful covers of Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” and Radiohead’s “High and Dry”), West Philly’s own Chill Moody, and British drum-and-bass act Rudimental (during which this reporter felt bass shocks that almost stopped his heartbeat)
- Guest appearances from Philly’s own Freeway and Harlem’s Jim Jones during a DJ set from legendary producer Just Blaze, with Freeway performing State Property hits like “Roc da Mic”
- A searing performance from WXPN favorites The War on Drugs, during which frontman Adam Granduciel gave Program Director Bruce Warren a heartwarming shoutout (referring to him as “The Other Boss”)
- The aforementioned strongest set of the day, starting with The Electric Lady herself being wheeled out on a stretcher in a straitjacket before tearing through most of her hits with uncompromising intensity
- The Roots (post-Snoop Dogg) bringing out Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, and former member Rahzel for an epic rendition of several popular songs showcasing all three of their legendary beatboxing.
Check out photos from the day’s festivities, taken by local musician and photographer Mark Schaffer, in the gallery below.
Stories of old gigs from The Roots are the stuff of legend around Philadelphia. Throw a stone and you’re bound to hit a Gen-X music lover with memories (perhaps false ones) of surprise shows at now-defunct Old City venues and happenstance Questlove sightings at Northern Liberties brunch spots. These stories might be all that is left of a bygone era in which The Roots helped shape the sonic and ideological imprint of left-of-center hip-hop culture, all the while centering it in a series of extinct local hot spots.
Well, not all that’s left. They may have abandoned a rigorous touring regimen for late night glory, but Quest and co. remain committed to creating awesome moments of cross-genre delight and enlightenment for Philadelphians of all stripes. The clearest definition of this mission statement – one which has followed them into numerous genre-bending albums and collaborations – is the annual Roots Picnic, the 7th installment of which goes down at Festival Pier this Saturday. Few festivals pack such an eclectic and kinetic punch in a small, relatively inexpensive experience. While this year’s lineup is one of its strongest yet, we here at The Key have our eye on a few artists (including some lesser-known ones) who have had especially fascinating years and promise tremendous sets on Saturday.
At the risk of sounding obvious, we’ll say that any set from The Roots is bound to set the mood for a day of gleeful head-nodding. Their reputation as a live act, honed through nearly two decades of constant touring and five years of sequence-scoring for Jimmy Fallon, is well-established. With the recent release of the excellent …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, the band also promises to deliver some searing live renditions of their epic new material.
The first Made in America festival got a lot of mixed reviews from local concertgoers who were mired in large-scale and largely acceptable skepticism about how a festival of that scale would play out on the Parkway. Unanimous praise was saved, however, for Janelle Monáe’s classic soul-rooted, futuristically-oriented brand of music. After near-unanimous praise for her latest album, 2013’s The Electric Lady, the aptly named Electric Lady promises a solid set of fanciful festivity.
The War on Drugs
At least one prominent Roots Picnic slot is reserved for a buzzworthy indie act who, like The Roots, looks to bridge aesthetic boundaries instead of reinforcing them. Philly’s own The War on Drugs, riding on the success of this year’s acclaimed and dreamscape-y Lost in the Dream, fill big shoes left by genre benders like Vampire Weekend and TV on the Radio. But if their unique take on shoegaze-meets-Americana has a perfect home anywhere, it’s at an open air concert along their hometown’s emblematic waterfront.
Last month, Philly space rock heroes The War on Drugs played their very first show in support of the acclaimed new album Lost in the Dream at WXPN’s Free at Noon concert. Today, some of those songs will show up in the band’s World Cafe interview with David Dye – which you can tune in to here at 2 p.m. ET. Below, get psyched by listening to the entire Free at Noon set, and perusing an album of photos from the show. The War on Drugs return to Philly on May 31st to play the Roots Picnic; tickets and info on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Philly’s The War On Drugs released their new album, Lost In The Dream, on March 18th and kicked off their tour in Philly at Union Transfer. After their Philly, WOD played three sold out shows in New York at the Bowery Ballroom. Two of the shows were recorded by NYCTaper. You can download them here. The second night of their New York stint, the band did a smoking cover of John Lennon’s “Mind Games,” that you can download below. The War On Drugs return to Philly on Saturday, May 31st for The Roots Picnic.
Tuesday was record release day for one of our very favorite Philly bands, War On Drugs. They released their new album, Lost In The Dream to an 8.8 out of 20 Best New Music rating from Pitchfork. Writer Stuart Berman called the album, War On Drugs’ “most lustrous, intricately detailed, and beautifully rendered record to date.” No disagreement here. The latest album by singer-songwriter and lead guitarist Adam Granduciel and company was on transcendent display last night at Union Transfer when they kicked off their opening night tour in front of a jubilant sold out hometown crowd. You can listen to a stream of the show here, and check out our photo recap of the show below. Photos by Kate McCann.
Last night at Union Transfer, Philly’s War On Drugs celebrated yesterday’s release of their new album, Lost In The Dream. A sold out hometown crowd welcomed the band with open arms and high spirits to see the band to play for an hour and 45 minutes. Lost In The Dream is War On Drug’s best album yet and live, new material like “Under The Pressure,” “Red Eyes,” and “An Ocean In Between The Waves,” were transcendent. Fueled by Adam Granduciel’s exceptional guitar playing, drummer Charlie Hall’s driving Mick Fleetwood-esque drumming, bassist Dave Hartley’s rock steady bottom, and Robbie Bennett’s colorful keyboard playing, the band were augmented with additional players on guitar and saxophone. Below, via Phila Taper stream the band’s entire show.
Set list (via Setlist.fm)
Under the Pressure
I Was There
An Ocean In Between The Waves
Eyes to the Wind
Brothers (with Kurt Vile)
Lost In The Dream
Black Water Falls