The War On Drugs have been described as the future of rock and roll, while also being described as dad rock, Americana, and psychedelic. Listening to them, it’s hard to put a pin on their exact genre, but perhaps that’s intentional. Their sound is unique, as if Bob Dylan came of age with a synthesiser and drum machines rather than an acoustic guitar and harmonica holder. Their latest album A Deeper Understanding was the reason behind the show at The Palace Theatre last night. Released this past August, their latest album has soared to great success, reaching #10 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, proving that, if they are dad rock or the future of rock and roll, it pays to look back before going forwards.
Seemingly hundreds of little red lights illuminated the stage before the band came onstage, all from the dozen or so amplifiers and countless pedals that would surround frontman Adam Granduciel. “In Chains” Opened their set with fog machines on full blast, before moving onto more songs off of A Deeper Understanding, like “Holding On” and “Pain” Adam’s guitars seemed to be changed out after every song, but one thing remained constant: A First Avenue tee-shirt showing through a plaid shirt. People towards the front called him out on it, and thanked him for reppin the hometown club. “We don’t tell every city that they’re the greatest rock city we’ve been to.” He mentioned. “Just you guys.”
Guitar solos were plentiful throughout the evening, “Red Eyes” and “Under The Pressure” both off of 2014’s Lost In the Dream clocking in at double-digits. While the band played just 17 songs, they packed the Palace Theatre for over two hours, but not before their Tom Petty tribute during the encore, and a shout out to musician Craig Finn, Playing at the nearby Turf Club that evening, earlier in the set.
Throughout the evening, I found people dancing to their songs in the corners and corridors of the Palace Theatre, young and old. I had thought there was something wrong with my earplugs, but a bartender made the comment to me that this was the loudest he’s ever heard a band play here. Between the noise, the dancing, the haze of the fog machine reaching all the way to the bars and bathrooms, and the light show onstage, yeah, I would call it Rock n Roll.
Words and Photos by Casey Carlson