Gig review: (The?) War on Drugs at The Brudnell Social Club | TQS Magazine

I am not what you might call “in the know” when it comes to music – I have nothing against the odd gig now and again, invariably arriving with no prior knowledge of the band in question. Be warned, fair reader, this is not the most academic of gig reviews.

My housemate had invited me along to see (The?) War on Drugs at the Brudenell Social Club on Wednesday and so I agreed thinking vaguely that if nothing else it would be different to a night in front of The One Show. This absolutely proved to be true.

Spot the odd one out

Upon arrival we met up with a group of said housemate’s friends, all quietly expectant of good things and all familiar with the band (odd one out much). I was particularly enjoying my drink in the tepid autumn air when I was unwittingly bustled inside so that we could catch the support band (as we really don’t like those people who only bother with the headliner, oh no).

I am, contrary to all appearances, familiar with gigs at the Brudenell and so was quite content when we settled near the front in anticipation. When the band eventually came on I was equally unsurprised to see two lumberjack shirts, long haired and unshaven heads and a selection of slim fit jeans spread through the four piece band. The first thing that caught my eye was the gentle gyration of the front man’s hips, possibly highlighted by the three other inanimate members.

The music was agreeable enough – atmospheric instrumentals paired with Bob Dylan vocal stylings (sadly, reader, that is the only musical analysis gracing this page; and yes, I am rather proud of it). Having formed this opinion two verses in, I spent longer agonising over whether it was a shrewd enough judgement to present to my musically-aware companions. I decided risk was better than silence was rewarded with a scattering of chuckles and agreement. The theory was further propagated upon the appearance of a harmonica.

Feeling flushed with success and rather enjoying the Dylan-esque melodies I decided it was safe to find out who exactly the support band were. My question was met with troubled expressions: “But … this is War on Drugs. Didn’t you … like … pay to see them?”

Is this even them?

So the agreeable support band transformed into the agreeable headline as my fragile reputation disintegrated before my eyes. Still, I am perennially bemused at gigs so this wasn’t much of a setback. I amused myself instead by watching in fascination a gentleman in a sailor outfit as he danced far too energetically in something like 1.5 time.
As the music wound on, the atmosphere, dimmed lighting and heat drew me into something of a stupor – so all credit to the band for the rousing finish. I wouldn’t like you to go away with any detrimental ideas about (The?) War on Drugs – they gave me a perfectly pleasant excursion from the sofa.

I also (incredibly) managed to reassemble some fragments of my reputation. Popping into Starbucks the next day for a wholly-deserved Caramel Macchiato, the barrista asked casually, “so how did you enjoy War on Drugs last night?” After a flash of stalker-paranoia my brain hurtled right on through to flattery before settling at smugness. Looks like War on Drugs, whatever their music style, have worked wonders for my street cred. Rock on!

Words by Claudia Rowe