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Episode recap: The War On Drugs

Austin City Limits spotlights the acclaimed American band The War On Drugs in a majestic new hour of atmospheric rock, featuring highlights from their current Grammy-nominated album I Don’t Live Here Anymore. The new installment premieres January 28 at 7pm CT/8pm ET on PBS.  Following the broadcast, the episode will be available to stream at 11pm CT/12am ET at pbs.org/austincitylimits for four weeks. The Peabody Award-winning program, recorded live at ACL’s studio home in Austin, Texas, continues its extraordinary run as the longest-running music television show in history. ACL gives viewers a front-row seat to the best in live performance as this American music institution nears its remarkable half-century milestone. ACL airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings) and full episodes are made available to stream online at pbs.org/austincitylimits following the initial broadcast.

The War On Drugs made a powerful ACL debut in 2015 and now return with songs from their two most recent releases, the celebrated I Don’t Live Here Anymore, the band’s fifth album, a 2023 Grammy Award nominee, and 2017’s A Deeper Understanding, which earned the band their first-ever Grammy for Best Rock Album. Led by singer/guitar virtuoso and primary songwriter Adam Granduciel, the Philadelphia outfit has steadily evolved into one of rock’s most compelling live acts over the course of a nearly two-decade career, deftly blending gritty heartland rock, richly melodic vocals and sparkling analog synthesizers on a series of beloved albums. The New York Times says, “With this fifth studio album, they’ve reached improbable heights with meticulously crafted, guitar-forward songs”; Consequence hails, “It’s hard to imagine a musical experience that’s more enveloping and uplifting”; and GQ raves, “[I Don’t Live Here Anymore] is easily the band’s clearest, most vibrant, and upbeat. You’ll want to play it loud and see it live.” 

The War On Drugs on Austin City Limits, Season 48. Photo by Scott Newton.

The septet open their set with “Pain,” a Deeper Understanding cut that perfectly demonstrates their ability to blend bright melodies with brooding synth textures and grand-scale guitar solos. Bandleader Granduciel guides the group through a series of adventurous and emotionally resonant explorations in the hour, including the lush soundscapes and familiar synth and guitar intro of title track “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” a radio favorite and the #1 song at the Adult Alternative format in 2022. “Thanks for having us on the legendary Austin City Limits,” Granduciel remarks. “Growing up without cable TV, this is one of the only things I grew up watching.” A wave of synthesizers signals “In Chains,” the closing number that mixes shimmering dreampop with anthemic rock, earning rapturous raves from the ACL audience.

“The War on Drugs are the perfect bridge between the legacy music in which ACL’s roots run deep and the contemporary sound of rock music today,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Lyrically and sonically, they represent a big part of the sound of ACL today.”

Episode setlist:

Pain

I Don’t Wanna Wait

Victim

Strangest Thing

I Don’t Live Here Anymore

Thinking of a Place

In Chains

Season 48 Broadcast Schedule (Second Half):

January 7   Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Sheryl Crow

January 14   Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats/ Adia Victoria

January 21   Adrian Quesada Boleros Psicodélicos

January 28   The War On Drugs

February 4   Pavement

February 11   Maren Morris

February 18   Spoon

February 25   Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Joe Ely

Watch live on PBS, or stream anytime. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding episode schedules, future tapings and select live stream updates or by following ACL on Facebook, Twitter and IG. Fans can also browse the ACL YouTube channel for exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes videos and full-length artist interviews.

Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits (ACL) offers viewers unparalleled access to featured acts in an intimate setting that provides a platform for artists to deliver inspired, memorable, full-length performances. Now in its 48th Season, the program is taped live before a concert audience from The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in television history and remains the only TV series to ever be awarded the National Medal of Arts. Since its inception, the groundbreaking music series has become an institution that’s helped secure Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. The historic Austin PBS Studio 6A, home to 36 years of ACL concerts, has been designated an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark. In 2011, ACL moved to the new venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. ACL received a rare institutional Peabody Award for excellence and outstanding achievement in 2012.  
Austin City Limits is produced by Austin PBS and funding is provided in part by Dell Technologies, Workrise, the Austin Convention Center Department, Cirrus Logic and AXS Ticketing. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Austin City Limits. Learn more about Austin City Limits, programming and history at acltv.com.