It’s been almost three years since the Philadelphia band called The War On Drugs released a great record called Wagonwheel Blues and performed at Schubas. Since then, one musician from the band, Kurt Vile, has attracted some acclaim of his own (and he has more or less left The War On Drugs). Now, there’s finally a second album by The War On Drugs, Slave Ambient. And the band was back at Schubas Friday night (Aug. 26).
It was a four-piece band this time, compared to the stripped-down three-man lineup that played here in 2008. The sounder was fuller, sometimes positively dense. Led by singer-songwriter-guitarist Adam Granduciel, The War On Drugs essentially plays a sort of folk rock, but on the new album, it has a trippy, slightly psychedelic air wafting through it, as the dreamy songs run into one another. Live, that sound was cranked up, and Granduciel let himself get lost in reverb-drenched guitar solos. The new record’s nice, but the band hasn’t topped its excellent 2008 song “Arms Like Boulders,” which was a highlight of the set.
The first band of the night was Tammar from Bloomington, Indiana, who were also bathed in reverb, with barely decipherable vocals echoing inside the rhythms. The middle act on the lineup was Caveman, a Brooklyn band getting some attention lately. From what I heard, the band’s usual drummer was missing, but with two musicians banging the drums, there was certainly no lack of rhythm.