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(Credit: Julio Enriquez)

Music

The War on Drugs take on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert

@TylerGolsen

The War on Drugs recently returned with the occasionally transcendent LP I Don’t Live Here Anymore, their greatest step into synth-powered rock and roll. The band themselves haven’t played a live show since Covid-19 put the kibosh on most of that back in 2019, but Adam Granduciel and his intrepid band of indie rockers have beamed themselves out from their studio to perform a few songs on NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert series.

The band burn through four of the album’s tracks, including the title song, ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’, ‘Old Skin’, and ‘Change’. The band has a sprawling set-up, complete with more pedals and carpets than you could shake a drumstick at, but most of the space is taken up by the band’s new favourite instrument.

Unsurprisingly, most of the studio space is taken up by synths. The major sonic force behind much of the album, I count at least eight different keyboards, all of which are primed and ready to add layers to the band’s dense, 1980s-heavy arrangements. Thankfully, the synths on I Don’t Live Here Anymore add to the album’s sound, not distracting or detracting from Granduciel’s emotive songwriting.

I was about to get on my soap box about how there wasn’t a tiny desk present, but Granduciel actually incorporates it into a bit during the performance. After introducing the band members, the singer asks if anybody has a capo he can borrow. With that, a magnificent DIY tiny desk, composed of drumsticks for legs, descends from the heavens and delivers said capo. There’s even a tiny little lamp for added effect.

Obviously, Granduciel understands the most important aspect of a Tiny Desk concert is the tiny desk itself, as any good artist does. Weaving in the tiny desk is an art form, and The War on Drugs are on my shortlist for goofiest and most fun incorporation.

Check out the band’s performance down below.