While I’ve been reformatting this site, I’ve run across a few early posts that I mistakenly thought were more robust than they actually were. I guess, at the time, I was in a less-is-more mindset. Nothing wrong with that … unless, of course, when it isn’t.
In hindsight, The War on Drugs’ Hollywood Bowl performance is one such entry, which back in September of 2018, I believed was sufficient to just focus on one standout moment. Here’s a link to refresh the memory.
That moment turned out to be their most recognizable and transcendent jam, “Under the Pressure,” which, in and of itself, is an incredibly epic neo-psychedelic opus of dreamy guitars and rolling rural Americana. It’s at once evocative of melancholic solitude and longing, while simultaneously exploding with sax-filled soul and exuberantly joyful rhythm.
As I check out this clip today, I’m still totally blown away by their spirited performance. Also, I still regret my iPhone storage running out of space, with two minutes left in their near 12 minute odyssey. Thankfully, these days, I know better.
Anyway, since then, I’ve become a lot more embellished, elaborative, inclusive, and most likely, exhaustive, when it comes to content and concerts. I tend to believe that when it comes to a great thing, more is most definitely more. So naturally, I decided to crack open the old War on Drugs archive and see what I overlooked and left behind.
What I found wasn’t quite as momentous as “Under the Pressure,” unless you count “Red Eyes,” which is a near close second. So clearly and confidently, I did chose the pinnacle moment of the evening, many moons ago.
Surprisingly, what I did uncover was definitely a broader palate of wonderfully slick and cool material, robust, expansive, and well-formed, that when taken as a whole, just elevated the entire experience to a far greater spectrum of space and sound … which curiously, is how my memory continues to frame the show.
Like “Under the Pressure,” this footage still sticks its focus on the Bowl’s LED screens, since I was seated a fair distance from the stage (see above photos). But all things considered, sound quality is kind of impressive, reminding me of how well The War on Drugs was able to sonically fill out the spacious 18,000 seat outdoor amphitheater. Prior to this performance, I’d only seen them in smaller venues, like the Fonda Theatre. So it was great to witness their transcendence to mass appeal.
Below are six tracks from their Bowl appearance, all about the same A/V quality, and mostly from their seminal 2014 album “Lost in the Dream.” I still think that’s my favorite LP they’ve crafted. And as such, I captured “An Ocean in Between the Waves” and “Burning,” as well as the aforementioned “Red Eyes,” and the previously posted “Under the Pressure.”
I’ve also got one from 2011’s “Slave Ambient,” the opener to their set, “Brothers,” which tonally set the mood for the cozy, comfy autumnal evening. And I recorded one of the (then) newer ones, the slow-cooked mellow roll of “Knocked Down,” from the 2017 release “A Deeper Understanding.”
I’m guessing that I probably would’ve had a few more, had I not encountered the aforementioned space issues of my given recording device. But it was a few years ago, so I could’ve just as easily been spacing out to the aural bliss of their widescreen open-air melodies.
Either way, I’m glad to crack open the archive, dust off these near-forgotten tracks, and get them posted for rediscovery.
That said, rewatching these selections from The War on Drugs does amplify the yearning for live music’s return. Until such time, enjoy revisiting this dusk-swept evening at the Hollywood Bowl from the fall of 2018.
The War on Drugs perform “Brothers” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 09.16.18.
The War on Drugs perform “An Ocean in Between the Waves” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 09.16.18.
The War on Drugs perform “Red Eyes” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 09.16.18.
The War on Drugs perform “Knocked Down” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 09.16.18.
The War on Drugs perform “Under the Pressure” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 09.16.18.
The War on Drugs perform “Burning” @ the Hollywood Bowl on 09.16.18.
And for its encore appearance, here’s the setlist, which I featured in the original 2018 post. Rather than make you search for it, I figured it’s easier to just include it once again. Enjoy!