The War On Drugs | Fonda Theatre | 10/3/14 [Photos & Setlist]

THE ACT: The War On Drugs | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 


THOUGHTS: When people ask me what music has been turning me on lately, I usually rattle off a list new LP’s that I’ve purchased at the local record shop. The one album that hasn’t left that list? The War On Drugs’ “Lost In The Dream”.

I remember when I bought the LP. I was thumbing through some racks of LPs at Origami Vinyl, when the text of “Limited Edition” and “Purple Vinyl” on the sticker caught my eye: “. Silly as it may be, since I’m a collector, things like that always interest me. I asked the proprietor about the album, and he told me that it was a solid album, giving me the history behind the band (how founding member Kurt Vile left the band in 2011, leaving Adam Granduciel to helm the band) and suggesting that if I purchased it, he was pretty sure I wouldn’t be disappointed. He was correct. In fact, he had gotten me to purchase an album that I have very high on list of “best albums of the year”. Well done, Origami Vinyl.

The album is brilliant. It’s a cohesive masterpiece of brilliantly engaging, dreamy rock, melding understated synths with soaring guitar licks. The album is only 10 tracks deep, and runs slightly over an hour, but the listening experience seems to conclude too early, as if the “dream” is the music causing the listener to get “lost” in it. A dream that you simply don’t want to wake up from. The lyrics, honest and emotional, is Adam’s voice … but really, it’s the voice of the everyman. When he sings about that moment of realizing heartbreak or admitting depression, he’s really writing, whether he meant to or not, for everyone one who has been there.

The War On Drugs’ live show is just as amazing as their album. Pulling from the band’s entire catalog, their set, and pardon the pun, was like an ocean with waves (a song of theirs is titled “An Ocean Between The Waves”). From sublime smoothness, to relentless ardor, the room swelled with the kind of natural energy only great music can create; hitting the right peaks and valleys with an emotional fervor.

And the music was played to perfection. Though they may have jammed out, extending songs longer than what are on the album, I closed my eyes at times and couldn’t hear the difference. The musicianship, and the technicality with which they played, was effortless.

After their performance, I hung out a while to see if I could get Adam to sign the LP that I had lugged with me in my camera bag. As his band was on stage taking down their equipment, I asked a stage hand as to whether Adam would be cool signing the LP for me. He shouted up to Adam and he jumped from the stage to greet me. A very real, and modest man, he was happy to sign my LP and was genuinely pleased (I could see it in his eyes) when I told him that their performance blew my mind. I asked him some more questions about the rest of his tour, and then went on my way; but needless to say, knowing that the man behind the music was as genuine and modest as the other, looking me in the eyes and paying attention to me with my small talk, made me appreciate his art more than ever.


The War On Drugs | Fonda Theatre



The Warlocks | The Roxy | 4/25/14


Opening for the Dandy Warhols at the Roxy was the American, psychedelic rock band The Warlocks. Founded in 1998 by Bobby Hecksher, the band has been playing with various lineups since, with Hecksher the only constant member.

With half a dozen albums released since it’s inception (with their latest album, “Skull Worship” being released in November of 2013), The Warlocks concert seemed to cover their entire repertoire (according to a The Warlocks fans standing next to me). When I snagged the setlist (which you can see below) off the lip of the stage, she took a look at it and noted (while giggling) how they abbreviated the names of the songs.


The Warlocks’ music isn’t for everybody. If you aren’t familiar with them, you may assume that their sound is akin to the Grateful Dead (the Grateful Dead’s first name was The Warlocks), but you’d be wrong. Rather, their sound seems to be heavily influenced by the neo-psychedilia and experimental rock of the Velvet Underground. Personally, I was feeling it. I thought that perhaps the start of the set was a bit too downtempo for my tastes, but as it went on, the energy picked up and had me grooving by the end.

Jacco Gardner | Culture Collide | 10/11/13

Click here to check out the other bands that I saw perform at Culture Collide 2013


I take music reviews with a grain of salt. I do my best to avoid reading them until I’ve already developed my own opinion about the music myself, but when trying to learn about music that I’ve never heard about before, it’s tough not to read an article or two…

When I looked for information about Jacco Gardner, I stumbled on the review of Jacco Gardner’s latest release “Cabinet of Curiosities”. In that article, Pitchfork states:

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Being compared to such musical luminaries ranging from Brian Wilson to Love is nothing to scoff at. I only listened to a few tracks available on youtube, and decided that I would reserve judgement until I saw him perform live.

Jacco Gardner's setlist.
Jacco Gardner’s setlist.

Gracing the stage at the Echo Park United Methodist Church, he and his full band wistfully played set that was filled with all of those elements that made that Pitchfork reviewer recall the musical, psychedelic pop stylings of Brian Wilson and Love. His arrangements were more complex than I would have expected from a young man in his mid twenties, and his performance was that of a subdued and mature veteran.

I loved his sound. His audience loved his sound. I purchased his LP, and his music sounds incredible on vinyl. It may be tough finding large audiences to fall into his music, but I, for one, am very interested in seeing where he takes it. You can too by following his Facebook account.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

Click here to check out the other bands that I saw perform at Culture Collide 2013