The War on Drugs Lives Up to the Hype at Fillmore Miami Beach

The War on Drugs
with the Everymen
Fillmore Miami Beach
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Better Than: Staying home and hate-watching LeBron James lose another NBA Finals.

It's safe to assume the Philadelphia-based rock band that played the Fillmore last night came up with the name the War on Drugs ironically. Its sound is, after all, one of pure 1980s cocaine excess. Its latest critically acclaimed album, last year’s Lost in the Dream, is basically ten different awesome variations of Don Henley’s "Boys of Summer." 

On the band’s first visit to Miami, it was able to masterfully replicate its signature overproduced aesthetic in a live setting that had the audience clapping in spontaneous unison during the nearly two-hour set. The six members — two on guitar, one bassist, a drummer, keys, and a utility man — played in front of a curved row of C-shaped screens that lit up in fluorescent shades of green, pink, and blue. If this were an audition for the soundtrack of a Miami Vice reboot, the War on Drugs' crisp drumbeats, moody synthesizers, and sax parts would have nailed it the gig.

The War on Drugs is led by singer/songwriter Adam Granduciel. Throughout the night, with his shirt sleeves rolled up and his hair frazzled, the singer's shadow cast a distinct caricature on the Fillmore walls. He has a voice you could call Dylanesque, but with better enunciation. His lyrics are as oblique as the drum kit was transparent. He’s been compared to Bruce Springsteen and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and every other singer your dad likes. But the War on Drugs makes you think that — besides all those shoulder pads and spandex — maybe our '80s forefathers were on to something. Midway through the set, when the band hit its nine-minute opus "Under the Pressure" and Granduciel let out one of his trademark “woos!” it becomes obvious the song is one of the great driving anthems of this — or any — time, even though our cars were half a mile away. 
The night's openers were the Everymen (not to be confused with Lake Worth's Everymen), a New Jersey bar band with two noteworthy features. The band was led by a female singer with Motown-caliber pipes, and its guitarist mentioned how excited he was to play in the Jackie Gleason Theater, as he is a huge Honeymooners fan (something Granduciel later attested to).

Granduciel also complimented our fair city and called it “one of the nicer places in America for sure.” Hey, we'll take it. He added the band would be having a nightcap at Gramps after the show. Let’s hope he had a good time, so he’ll follow through with his promise of the War on Drugs making a return trip.

Set List
  • Burning
  • Arms Like Boulders
  • Baby Missiles
  • Lost in the Dream
  • An Ocean in Between the Waves
  • Disappearing
  • Red Eyes
  • Eyes to the Wind
  • Under the Pressure
  • In Reverse
  • Your Love
  • Encore:
  • Come to the City
  • Best Night
  • Comin’ Through
  • Buenos Aires Beach

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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland