The War on Drugs Rocks Marathon Music Works

The War on Drugs @ Marathon
The War on Drugs @ Marathon

Despite severe weather warnings, on Monday I and a healthy crowd of Nashvillians head over to Marathon Music Works for The War on Drugs’ exclusive brand of heartland rock. Attendees sport beards, boots, flannel, and, many of them, years of life experience. I’m pretty sure this is the same multigenerational group that showed up in place of Vanderbilt students when Quake accidentally booked My Morning Jacket several years ago.

During their 14-song set, The War on Drugs makes it plain that they are a guitar band. Frontman Adam Granduciel is brought a different guitar before each song, and he goes into extended soloing throughout the night. The sound is straightforward and expansive, and upbeat numbers like “Red Eyes” have fans swaying and bobbing their heads. Two young lumberjack types in my vicinity start up an air guitar band.

Adam Granduciel in the Spotlight for "Suffering"
Adam Granduciel in the Spotlight for “Suffering”

The remaining instruments play a supporting role. The other band members are a keyboardist, rhythm guitarist, bassist, drummer, and a baritone sax player. At first glance the sax player stands out because of his instrument, but quickly he’s revealed to be a subtle part of the band’s atmosphere instead of a gimmick. The sax never takes the lead, but instead layers into the densely mixed structure. Excluding Granduciel’s harmonica outros and on-the-prairie ballads like “Suffering” and “Lost in the Dream”, War on Drugs could pass respectably as a shoegaze outfit. Though tracks like “An Ocean in Between the Waves” and “Under the Pressure” exceed seven and nine minutes, respectively, the band plays hard throughout.

In the live setting at Marathon the music develops a natural and full quality, and the sound clearly envelops the area. As a relatively new venue, Marathon Music Works strikes an impressive balance between friendly rusticity and a modern sheen. Granted, the former quality can partly be attributed to the style of music of the night since electronic bands I’ve seen here before (Beach House, Passion Pit) had me mostly thinking about the second part. Either way, the versatile atmosphere and open layout makes Marathon an excellent addition to the Nashville scene. The War on Drugs certainly fit right in, and I’d be excited to see them back in this space in the future.

Check out War on Drugs’ great 2014 release, Lost in the Dream:

The Hits of Homecoming

As you may already be aware, homecoming was just this past weekend. All week, our campus has been inundated with alumni of all ages coming back to relive their Vanderbilt experiences. So as we wrap up the weekend, here’s a homecoming soundtrack to put the weekend into perspective. Some of these graduates lived through some really great years of music (and WRVU). So without further ado, I present to you: the hits of homecoming.

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Music City: True to its Name

Recently, the Travel and Leisure Magazine came out with rankings of America’s favorite cities and lo and behold, Nashville was listed number 1 for concerts, the music scene, and also as the friendliest city around. Even only after a year of living here, I wholeheartedly agree that this is the place for music and entertainment. For those of you who are a bit skeptical, I’ve compiled a list of reasons that this ranking is well-deserved.

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Quake Performers Shine Despite Poor Acoustics, AC in Memorial Gym

The first thing that I noticed walking in to Memorial Gym last night for Commodore Quake was the oppressive heat.  The second thing that I noticed once I found a seat was the atrocious, garbled acoustics of our re-purposed basketball court.  I wish I didn’t feel like I have to include these sour notes as the very first thing in this recap.  I wish I hadn’t noticed these things about Quake at all.  But most of all, I sincerely wish that these weren’t the most memorable aspects of my entire night at Quake.

This year's Quake logo
This year’s Quake logo

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The Hip Hop Guide For People That Aren’t Into Hip Hop

I am lyrically challenged.  I will be listening to a song and not even hear the lyrics most of the time.  If I have listened to the song enough, I might be able to sing along even though I have given exactly zero thought to the meaning or even coherence of what I am singing.  I also grew up listening to the mainstream pop punk, nu-metal, and metalcore of the early to mid 2000′s and held an active dislike for rap.  These things considered, there is seemingly no reason that I should find myself getting into hip hop and rap at the age of 20.  It turns out I just had to find the right stuff to serve as a gateway to the hip hop world.  Here, I will list some of the artists that helped make the transition into the wonderful genre of hip hop a little easier. [Read more...]

Local Acts Shine at Exit/In–Monday, October 6, 2014

Joel Levi headlined Soundstamp's local music showcase at Exit/In on Monday night.
Joel Levi headlined Soundstamp’s local music showcase at Exit/In on Monday night.

Exit/In is one of Nashville’s most famous and beloved venues.  One look above the bar at the wall of artists who have performed on its stage is enough to send the tingles of history down your spine.  Monday night, though, Exit/In’s legendary stage was devoted to three local acts: Joel Levi, James and the Wild Spirit, and Vanderbilt’s own Kid Freud.  The trio of bands, though quite different in genre and style, combined to put on one hell of a show.

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