The War On Drugs and the Hold Steady are two bands that have strong relationships with classic rock. Both bands take old sounds and twist them around, turning them into very personal things. They do that in different ways, of course, with the War On Drugs turning those sounds into cosmic haze and the Hold Steady mutating them into wordy, poetic rave-ups. But they’re both working with some of the same ingredients, and it’s cool to see what happens when, after a fashion, they come together.
Last night, the War On Drugs played at Brooklyn Steel, in the Hold Steady’s adapted hometown of New York City. During their set, the band welcomed Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn to the stage. Finn, who the War On Drugs’ Adam Granduciel introduced as a “Zevon freak,” joined the band on a cover of “Accidentally Like A Martyr,” a song from Warren Zevon’s 1978 album Excitable Boy. The War On Drugs have covered that song before, but never with Finn.
Finn and Granduciel have vastly different stage presences, so it was strange and fascinating to see Finn’s fired-up gesticulations — which, granted, were a little more muted than usual last night — paired with the War On Drugs’ woozy spaciness. But Finn looked very happy to be there. Watch a fan-made video below.
Also of note: Finn is “nine songs in” on a new record, but he doesn’t say whether it’s a solo album or a Hold Steady joint.