Philly’s The War on Drugs rage on at Freedom Mortgage Pavilion this weekend

The War on Drugs
Shawn Brackbill

To state that The War on Drugs is alterna-rock Philadelphia’s most beloved band is to opine without reason for challenge.

Along with having released five studio albums of existential lyricism and dreamlike musicality — 2017’s ‘A Deeper Understanding’ won a Grammy for Best Rock Album — its guitarist, lyricist and singer Adam Granduciel produced and released the 2014-recorded, concert artifact ‘LIVE DRUGS’, a document of stunning power and rhythmic heft as presented by TWoD’s longtime bass and drum team, Richard Hartley and Charlie Hall.

That same live furor can be witnessed this Friday, Sept. 16, as The War on Drugs’ hit the stage at Camden’s Freedom Mortgage Pavilion.

“The challenge of playing live is about translating each ingredient of a song a-new, to portray each emotion, fresh, without ever repeating what we did on our albums – because what would be the point,” says Hall. “Playing live, being live, is about continuing to find new territory, emotionally, musically and directionally, say with songs such as “Eyes to the Wind,” something we’ve played hundreds and thousands of times. That’s the fun of doing this.”

Hall says he excited to be back on the road and reunited with Granduciel who now lives on the West Coast. “We live across the country, now, from each other, but the great thing about touring is to spend time with the people you love,” says Hall. “It’s like any relationship where building and maintaining trust is its key. There are subtle communications between us that, in particular, has grown on stage. It’s about reading the tea leaves – the movement a foot, the glance of an eye, the shift of a pedal – and from there changing the scene and the vibe. Our unspoken language is THAT highly developed. The job then is to communicate those vibes, especially on stage, to all seven people in the band at once.”

Of the other half of the War on Drugs rhythm section, Dave Hartley, Hall calls him as close a partner as any family member.
“Dave would go with me to my kids’ Parent’s Day if I asked him to,” says Hall with a laugh. “He’s somebody on which to rely and trust with anything. We’re that deeply connected, as close as any two people can be. We’re deep in it together.”

And with that, the question of who The War on Drugs is now, and how they evolved since their start in 2005, is answered.

“It’s a pretty powerful band now. Not that it wasn’t before without getting granular. This year, however, we’ve played close to 100 shows. That will teach you how to exist,” says Hall. “And so, we just keep growing, refining and getting better. There’s a level of confidence that we have. It’s great to start at that baseline of high confidence, keeping things flowing. And everybody in this band, individually and together, work hard to make that true.”

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