The follow up you were all waiting for!
1. The War on Drugs at 8:45pm
Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs reside at the blurred edges of American music: overexposing studio limitations, piling tape upon tape to maximum density, and then — with each song — they pull off the scaffolding to reveal what sticks, keeping only what’s absolutely necessary and dig into what sounds like the best kind of fucked up. As on their 2008 debut, Wagonwheel Blues, central member Adam Granduciel takes small moments occurring over multiple tapes and multiple song versions, and puts every last drop of trust in his own keen instinct of momentum.
That’s not to overshadow the sharp, personal songwriting at play here. There are certainly cues taken from our very best American bards (Dylan, Petty, Springsteen). Yet, The War on Drugs are wise enough to also implode those cues or send themselves into outer space when the moment calls for it. The driving organ riff that pushes “Baby Missiles,” from the band’s 2010 epic EP Future Weather, may well be inspired by a fever dream of Springsteen rather than any particular song in his catalogue. And the endless layers of guitar melody and atmospherics of “Comin’ Through,” also from Future Weather, rather than add weight to the vessel, only work to fill its sails with warmer and warmer winds.
2. Sylvan Esso at 4pm
Nick Sanborn’s music syncs seamlessly with Amelia Meath’s melodies, so that the respective words and beats become a string of ready-to-play singles. The irrepressible “Hey Mami” webs handclaps and harmonies around a flood of bass, a strangely perfect canvas for a tale of dudes hollering at neighborhood tail (and, finally, finding the chivalry not to do so). “Coffee” sparkles and quakes, patiently rising from a muted spell of seasonal affective disorder to a sweet rupture of schoolyard glee. These pop cuts condescend neither to their audience nor their makers. They are sophisticated, but with none of the arrogance that can imply; they are addictive, but with none of the banality that can entail. There is sensuality and sexual depravity, homesickness and wanderlust, nostalgia and immediacy. Sylvan Esso acknowledges that the world is a tumult of complications by giving you a way to sing and dance with those troubles, if not to will them away altogether.
3. Valerie June at 3pm
From the slide guitar shuffle of “You Can’t Be Told” and heavenly harmonies of traditional spiritual “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations,” to the stark, acoustic “Workin’ Woman Blues” and the uncanny darkness of “Twined and Twisted,” June effortlessly shifts between eras and genres. She can be haunting and melancholy, singing of loneliness on “Somebody To Love,” or full of warmth and charm, fondly recalling her home on “Tennessee Time.” At one moment seductive in a sensual come-on, fragile and vulnerable the next in a display of naked honesty, June transports you to another world the moment you hear her voice.