Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Concert Review: The War on Drugs

Bands: Tsui, The Drones, The War on Drugs
Venue: TT The Bears
Date: March 29, 2009

Introduction - Chris - It was a nice little venue with a tiny stage, common for such venues. The show started a bit late, sometime between 9 and 9:30. Unfortunately, I'm assuming since it was a Sunday night, there was a lack of showing with roughly 30 people in attendance.

Act One - Tsui

Glen: Tsui combined elements of folk (thumbs up to the drummer's use of the glockenspiel!) and poppy guitar chords. Their lyrics are touching and meaningful and their performance gentle. They have great potential, especially if they continue to write and record songs at a high level. I don't think they played my favorite track of theirs, "Ms. Is On The Phone," but I'll forgive them for that. They certainly compensated for this during their rather short set.

Chris: Decently catchy songs. Not too much movement from them, in their performance, but maybe that worked.... maybe.

Act Two - The Drones

Glen: The Drones are an incredibly energetic Australian garage-punk band. Garage-punk not really in the same sense as, say, the Black Lips, but in a constant heavy strumming/heavy drumming kind of way. At times, I saw glimpses of Rage Against the Machine, but I'll blame the weak vocals (not the singer's fault; the tech guys didn't have the mic tuned at the best level) for having mistakenly heard Zach De La Rocha. My favorite song was "Minotaur," which was a scary kind of death punk. Other than that, The Drones southern rock influences were very very evident in their set. And Ozzy Osbourne. A little bit of him in there too.

Chris: Good Australian band, almost British sounding. They were humorous, energetic (especially the lead singer), and certainly rocked out. The guitars were pulsing, but the vocals lacked the same merit. Not to say that they were bad, just not as good.

Act Three - The War on Drugs

Glen: The experimental trio from Pennsylvania really got me going. That's right, they didn't get the crowd going...they got me going. That's because they played every song that I was familiar with. I liked how the singer asked the drummer, "Boulders?" but before the drummer could respond he said "Fuck it" and they jumped right into "Arms Like Boulders," a particularly catchy freak folk track. Before that they played "Taking the Farm," an electronic ode to the likes of Animal Collective et al. But by far the best part of their set was their last song, "A Needle in Your Eye." For this song, the singer set aside his guitar and turned on his keyboard. I liked the noisy aspect of the keyboard -- it was loud, but not so loud that the other instruments, bass and drum, weren't able to be heard." On a final note, I was under the impression that the drummer was simply a member of the band's crew because of his stereotypically ordinary crew look (long hair, shitty clothes). He was the man though -- I appreciate his showmanship.

Chris: It was a decent set, very loud, very noisy, but this wall of pandemonium worked very well (my ears are just starting to recover!). Excellent use of keyboards from the singer. The drumming was pile driving and reminded me of Peter Prescott. Unfortunately, they only played for 30 minutes, shorter than their predecessors. I had the feeling that they didn't want to play, mainly because the audience was small and not particularly enthusiastic. So I can't blame them.


Glen: Though I doubt that these bands will rise to the kind of prestige they deserve, I will be following each of them all the more closely because of their very solid performance Sunday night.

Chris: Good show! 7.5/8 out of 10. Disclaimer: I was not familiar with any of the bands to an extent (I heard two WOD songs a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot them).

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