|Adam Granduciel of the War on Drugs played the Greek Theater in Los Angeles last night.|
War on Drugs
@ The Greek Theater
Los Angeles, CA.
I'm at the age (39) where I see people who look "old" to me on the street and ask those around me, "Do I look like that?" The problem is exacerbated in Southern California, where the sight of a 50 year old millionaire riding a skateboard dressed in clothes that would look more appropriate on a 15 year old is not uncommon. Similarly, you might be looking at a 50 something woman with the body type and personal style of a teenager.
Perhaps that explains why my initial reaction to seeing The War on Drugs singer/band leader Adam Granduciel was asking my show companions, "How old is he?" He's 36, but he could easily pass for a 50 year old in my neighborhood. If, like me, you are in the category of casual The War on Drugs fan, you probably know that Kurt Vile was in The War on Drugs and left to pursue his solo career. I've actually spent a fair amount of time listening to Kurt Vile, and almost none listening to The War on Drugs aside from the single I've heard on Sirius XMU. The similarity in vocal delivery between Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel is impossible to ignore. The differences are in the style of music, with The War on Drugs featuring a Springsteen wall of sound era luxuriousness (two keyboardist and a saxophonist/french horn player) and Vile adhering to a more spartan "man and his guitar" sound.
The wall of sound was very much apparent at The Greek Theater last night, with the combination of a sustained organ being counterpointed with a more staccato piano. Granduciel plays the part of the 80s heartland rocker to the hilt. I can't remember the last show I've been to where the audience cheered BEFORE the guitar solo (also after.) The audience being very much into what Granduciel and the rest of the band was dishing out was the headline of the night. The War of Drugs are the kind of middle of the road rock band that is almost extinct and last night was the equivalent of traveling back in time and watching one of the last big dinosaurs walking the earth.
Newish successful rock bands are few and far between, and in 2015 it doesn't seem fair to criticize a rock artist for anything retro about their sound. The fact that The War on Drugs exists, and that they sold out the Greek Theater last night is all that needs to be said. Also, that they have hits, and they should continue to write hits, and that if they do that they have a chance of making it onto radio and filling stadiums. The Greek Theater has over 5000 in capacity, and they sold it out, so they are already on their way.