Live Review: The War on Drugs

Live Review: The War on Drugs

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Although rooted in Philadelphia, Bloomington, IN’s The Bishop seemed like home to The War on Drugs, as the band stopped by midway through their tour of the United States.On Nov. 3, The War on Drugs, Purling Hiss, and Carter Tanton played to a packed bar of 60-80 people, with The War on Drugs continually mentioning friends they had in the Bloomington area (which perhaps this contributed to a crowd that ranged from college freshmen to adults in their 30’s).

Baltimore’s Carter Tanton opened up the show, setting the mood for a night of ambient folk goodness. Comparing his ambient folk sound to that of The War on Drugs was nearly inescapable, however, as TWOD’s maturity was much more evident. Fellow Philadelphians Purling Hiss followed Tanton, shredding and ripping their way through a set of fun rock ‘n’ roll. Labeled by some as “drug punk,” Hiss wailed through a set of tunes often characterized by roaring, catchy riffs and Hendrix-esque solos. The trio’s front man, Mike Polizze (vocals and guitar), was wacky as can be, dancing and swaying in a fashion reminiscent of Dave Grohl as he exemplified a mastery of his Iggy-esque guitar tones. The band was a refreshing diversion from a night packed with ambient folk. Keep an eye on these dudes.

Returning to a familiar neck of the Midwest, TWOD played through a set dominated by tracks from their most recent album, Slave Ambient. Lead singer Adam Granduciel’s prophetic folk rasp served as a foundation for nearly every song, as ambient, lofi guitars swirled in the distance, climaxing in unison at peaks that undoubtedly highlighted the night. Although Granduciel’s voice was audible throughout the set, his lyrics were often hard to make out. To new ears, this EQ malfunction took away from one of the band’s most crucial dimensions: remarkably elegant lyricism.

Throughout the hour set, percussion was used sparingly; however, this songwriting scheme was often masked by the ambient swirling of guitar noise. All in all, The War on Drugs proved its mastery of a blooming folk movement.


  1. Lauren says:

    Great writing over here. Great show too!

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