Matteo Petrera, Alumnus Contributor
The line stretched around the block on the night of December 21st as hundreds of people queued up in the freezing cold awaiting their will call tickets to the final show of what may be the most Philly concert series yet, ‘A Drugcember to Remember.’ The War on Drugs, after playing two intimate shows at Johnny Brenda’s on December 19th and Union Transfer on December 20th, capped off the triple concert series benefiting Philadelphia public schools with a huge show at Upper Darby’s musical bastion, Tower Theater. The masses swept into the venue quickly, filling the pit and two balcony levels. By the time Frances Quinlan of recently-renowned band Hop Along took the stage to open the show, each level was completely packed.
Quinlan, coming off her band Hop Along’s 2018 hit album Bark your Head Off, Dog, opened with a solo version of ‘Somewhere A Judge,’ progressing through some new solo acts highlighting how well her voice could tear through the venue on top of only her acoustic guitar. Anthony LaMarca, guitarist of The War on Drugs, came out as the second opener to play some of his more soft spoken pieces such as ‘Have to Forgive’ and ‘Just for Once,’ highlighting his guitar work and esoteric vocals. After these two wonderful performances, the crowd was anxious for Adam Granduciel and his band to make their appearance.
Tim Heidecker, well known comedian of the ‘Tim and Eric show,’ came out on stage to introduce the band, with Granduciel trailing him. The War on Drugs opened with ‘Holding On,’ a huge hit off their most recent release, A Deeper Understanding. They proceeded to wind throughout their 5-album discography throughout the show, reaching back to 2010’s Future Weather to play ‘Baby Missles,’ as well as ‘Arms Like Boulders’ off of 2008’s Wagonwheel Blues and ‘Come to the City’ off of 2011’s Slave Ambient. Multiple hits off of 2014’s nationally recognized Lost in the Dream made appearances, including ‘Under the Pressure,’ ‘Eyes to the Wind,’ and ‘In Reverse’ all towards the end of the show. Granduciel’s guitar work shone through each song, manifested as rich improvised solos that ripped through the theater, especially on ‘An Ocean Between the Waves’ and ‘Eyes to the Wind.’ War on Drugs covered a Tom Petty song, ‘Straight into Darkness,’ and even did a collaborative song with Tim Heidecker on lead vocals, ‘Hot Piss.’ According to the group, this fundraiser show would be their last concert for a while, and it showed. The group poured their heart into all three nights, keeping up the same energy through the last song of the Tower Theater show. From here, we can assume that they’ll be back in the studio, and we can only eagerly await what comes next.
An Ocean Between the Waves
Arms Like Boulders
Hot Piss (With Tim Heidecker)
Straight Into Darkness (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)
Come to the City
Under the Pressure
Eyes to the Wind
Lost in the Dream