Freeway Foolishness: The War on Drugs (and Alex G!) Bring the Road to the Verti Music Hall 10 December

 

I don’t drive, though I’ve driven. I may drive again, even though I hope not to, mostly, when I get ‘round to wondering if there are any engines, pistons et al over my horizon, though I don’t wonder very often.

It’s emissive, it’s dangerous, it’s dislocating, to the pilots and everyone besides. It’s several sorts of madness all wrapped up in steel and plexi and pulsed through with electricity, in manners that are mainly opaque to most of us. What’s the thrust of a spark plug, anyway?

the cruelty of some consumerism is distended, or at least dead-ending

We plumb the earth for fossils and big bang remnants, little time compressions, re-write far-off laws to pay people less salt than their sweat’s worth, and worsen the hurricanes a little more every year, and for what? It’s true that these horrors are the familiar portents of so much of modernity, but how many lives are ended or ruined by, say, sachets of green tea? That’s not to say that paper waste and agri-tax breaks are boons; but the cruelty of some consumerism is distended, or at least dead-ending. Cars are a means towards more meanness. And in a lot of instances, we tend to render these insanities apparent when we scale them, but I suspect that we’ve been inured by the numeralising of vehicles to their inanity: what are our other encounters with 100 kilometres per hour, or four thousand revolutions in a single minute, or the strength of five hundred horses?

The male Americana that sprawls through their last two records and has drawn so many comps to the pantheon of denim – neither leather nor vinyl –shouldered rockers recalls nothing so much as the myriad bad habits scarred into the heartland.

The gist of this screed is, briefly, to say that the War on Drugs has made me believe, if only fleetingly, that it would be good to drive again. The male Americana that sprawls through their last two records and has drawn so many comps to the pantheon of denim – neither leather nor vinyl –shouldered rockers recalls nothing so much as the myriad bad habits scarred into the heartland. It might only be a gesture towards an imitable synthesis of experience, of the sort that good music videos gesture towards: the group’s YouTube page is fuelled essentially by tracking shots through the looks that bleary eyes give the highway when they’ve grown weary and unwary in the travail of a commute that transits into dawn.

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But give me ‘Red Eyes’ through the crumpled antenna muffle of a battered sedan – or better yet a low-bed, one-ton Chevy – on a track through a wheat field or a rain wood or the waste of a city’s fringe, by diners and pool halls and rest stops named for dead senators, and I’d keep on at it til I get on home, or to the office, or the kids’ soccer practice, or whatever’s the next hellish tedium coming my way.

War on Drugs are live in Verti Hall on 10th December.

Photo by Dustin Condren

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