The acclaimed ethereal indie-rockers of The War on Drugs are considered to be one of the breakout rock acts of 2014. Thursday, they stopped at the Fox Theater in Boulder.
The gig was part of an extensive U.S. and Europe tour promoting their latest album, “Lost in the Dream,” released on March 18, 2014.
Frontman Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile formed the band in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2005. After the first LP, “Wagonwheel Blues,” in 2008, Vile left the band to focus on his solo career. Adam Granduciel (vocals, guitar), David Hartley (bass, guitar), Robbie Bennett (keyboards, guitar) and Patrick Berkery (drums) currently form The War on Drugs.
The band has three albums: “Wagonwheel Blues” (2008), “Slave Ambient” (2011), which was critically acclaimed, and their latest album, “Lost in Dreams” (2014), which has also received critical acclaim, including praise from Rolling Stone. When the magazine reviewed the latest album, it described it as, “archetypal road-trip music: shimmering, steady, gritty as pavement and open as the sky.”
Opening for The War on Drugs was The Barr Brothers, a Canadian folk quartet, which was founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 2004. The band includes Andrew and Brad Barr, Sarah Page and Andres Vial, and together they form a near perfect quartet.
During the opening songs, the crowd was slim. But once the music started, that didn’t matter. The music was engulfing, and it was hard not to tap your foot or sway to the raw, gritty tunes.
Frontman Brad Barr switched between several guitars throughout the set. While playing his main guitar, he would dip his fingers into a glass of alcohol and start playing with a string attached to his guitar strings, which caused a unique sound. By the end of The Barr Brothers’ set, the crowd had grown and the music was loud and vibrant. It was bittersweet to see them go, but the crowd was beyond ecstatic to see The War on Drugs play in Boulder.
At about 10 p.m., the stage was set and emotions were high in the room. As the crew finished the final touches and soundchecks, Adam Granduciel, dressed in the band’s world-tour jacket, came on stage to do his own soundcheck.
Around 10:30 p.m., the lights finally went off. The band walked on stage, and the crowd erupted in screams and applause. The music started with an ethereal sound, which set the mood for the rest of the show.
After two or three songs, the band took the time to change instruments and tune up while interacting with the audience, making the venue seem even smaller. The fans gave lots of praise to the band, who responded thankfully and fired jokes at the crowd before the next set of songs.
The music never lost its vibrancy. As the night went on, the band decided a toast would be appropriate, so it invited a girl from the back up on stage. When she finally made her way on stage she was nervous, but not nervous enough to not ask Granduciel for a hug. He gladly obliged. She told the whole theater to raise glasses for a cheers, and the band started playing its newly popular song, “Red Eyes.”
Afterward the crowd started cheering and encouraged the band to play an encore. It only needed to beg a couple of minutes because the band came out almost instantly after they had left the stage. During the encore, the band played a rendition of Bob Dylan’s song, “Tangled up in the Blue.” The crowd couldn’t help but applaud, knowing one of the many reasons it loves the band is because of its nod to Dylan’s music.
The night finally came to a close, and in the darkness of the wing of the stage, Granduciel took a celebratory swig of champagne.
Contact CU Independent Photojournalist Elizabeth Rodriguez at email@example.com