Saturday, August 24, 2013
Concert review: Cold War Kids close out the summer with a bang at South Side Music Hall
They spent their words thoughtfully, saving up for the bigger prize rather than blowing it on something small.
DALLAS With enough passion to nearly light up the Dallas skyline, California’s Cold War Kids let the music do the talking at Friday night’s South Side Music Hall show. Don’t let the "kids" in the name fool you — these fiery rockers have been at it for almost a decade, with four records and a wildly impressive touring schedule. It’s front man Nathan Willett’s desperate bellows and the romping, crazed keys that got them here, setting them apart from the tsunami of indie rock bands that continue to flood the scene.
CWK's gut-punching approach has always been the band's mainstay, with earlier tracks “Hang Me Up To Dry” and “Hospital Beds” being drug out in the yard by Willett’s screaming verses. With four guitars, a relentless stuttering tempo, and rowdy drummer Matthew Aveiro who just won’t let it go, they fleshed out their vulnerable, angst-driven repertoire Friday night in Dallas. Newest single “Miracle Mile,” a sprinting anthem built on steel lungs, set the pace early on with well-oiled vocals and expert timing. But outside of the ramped-up numbers, the connection fell short. With little to no banter, we were left to the compelling music.
Willett switched between his guitar and piano throughout the night, the latter illuminating his authentically zealous nature. A majority of the tracks required his signature wails; he screamed into the mic like a preacher sharing his last sermon, with outstretched arms. Frenzied, stringed melodies flooded the single “We Used To Vacation,” showing off the band's rather effortless teamwork and choreography. Look past their hyped pace and eccentric vocals and you’ll see a band brimming with longevity. They spend their words thoughtfully, saving up for the bigger prize rather than blowing it on something small.
This approach hasn’t gone unnoticed with other bands: Florence + The Machine re-released their cover of CWK’s “Hospital Beds” on Lungs - The B-Sides in 2011 and Dallas’ own Sarah Jaffe showed her take on “Louder Than Ever” on 2012’s The Way Sound Leaves A Room. In one of the only harmonies of the night, Cold War Kids performed the original version of “Hospital Beds” with a pleading, more sobering tone. A fleeting encore revealed rambunctious single “Something Is Not Right With Me” with signature, head-banging piano that Little Richard would be proud of.
Another west coast talent, PAPA, opened the evening with an equally eccentric set built on textured keys and rich vocals. It’s easy to see why Cold War Kids brought them along: Drummer and lead singer, Darren Weiss, formerly of disbanded group Girls, is the heart and soul of the band. PAPA's brooding, new-age style boasts of succinct harmonies and soaring melodies, not to mention Weiss’ sturdy vocals.
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