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Laneway Festival // THE WAR ON DRUGS

The War On Drugs headline Australia’s St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2018.

When you close any festival you want the act to be big. In this case there were three groups of the line-up and a hard decision was proposed. Pond, Badbadnotgood or The War On Drugs? Inner turmoil amounted and the decision had to be made. The War On Drugs was the choice and I can confirm that it was the right one.

Frontman Adam Granduciel delivered an epic performance, always a modest performer he proved that sometimes you need the music to speak for itself. And it spoke volumes. Don’t get me wrong, he delivered some amazing guitar solos and the like, but not a dramatic amount. He used his long hair to conceal his concentration and rightly so, there is some intricate guitar work in some/most of those tracks.

Smoke machines and moody lighting helped set the tone and sprawling guitars melted over the sun burnt faces of the crowd. It was a truly euphoric and momentous set after a manic day at Laneway festival. When a band can sound better than their recorded music you know you are witnessing something exceptional and that’s what they did.

Pain and Red Eyes in the first half of the set was appreciated by the crowd, solid favourites went down a treat. As iconic guitars started each track it sent shivers down spines despite the sweaty weather. And their nostalgic sound wasn’t wasted on the diverse crowd that sang along to each song like a choir.

The War On Drugs’ music is the perfect soundtrack for every summer moment and watching it being performed on a cracking hot night was idyllic. And as the sun descended over Laneway and the evening breeze flew over it became the perfect moment. The band were using their time in Australia wisely, with multiple sideshows in each city as well as the festival. Including two sold out shows at Melbourne’s The Forum the following week, their devoted fan base would have them all themselves, but for Saturday night they had Laneway in the palm of their hands. Bring a little bit of rock n roll to the inner western suburbs of Melbourne, it felt like the optimal place for it.

The hour long set went way too quickly if you ask me. By the time they were performing Holding On from their 2017 release, A Deeper Understanding, our time together was almost over. That hardly seemed fair or just. They have four studio albums to perform, surely they will give us more. They didn’t disappoint, performing a few more tracks, the guys from Philadelphia would truly spoil the crowd. Leaving the festival uplifted and even inspired, it was a set that would be embedded in your memory.

Photos: Liz Stephens