Apr 10, 2013

Cold War Kids: Don’t take the keys from the DD

The first time I saw Cold War Kids was in the spring of 2006 at Pianos in New York. As they started their set with “Quiet Please” — less of a song and more of a concert etiquette set of instructions comparable to that of an airline — I was instantly hooked. Unfortunately last night was hardly the same experience and I should have known better from my pre-concert crowd observations.

Indeed Cold War Kids sold out The Newport Music Hall, which just so happens to be my venue of choice as far as PromoWest is concerned. However, I felt things were awry watching the crowd ecstatically cheer when each muddled pre-show song would end, thinking the band was about to take the stage. While I’ll admit none of the songs transitioned into the next, the fact that the lights never dimmed should have quelled the applause. And not to sound like a snarky asshole, I realize everyone has to start their live music journey somewhere, but the sheer number of people who were completely clueless was perplexing.

Calm down folks the techs are still on the stage…

Cold War Kids, Newport Music Hall, April 9, 2013

Needless to say once the Cold War Kids did take the stage, they certainly didn’t start with Quiet Please. Instead they proclaimed “We’re going to play a bunch of new songs” which was met with the same rabid cheers. They then proceeded to laying into a number of unrecognizable tracks which lacked the musical prowess I have grown to expect from such talented musicians. Please note that I am not the type to start disliking a band as they get popular, just look at the name of this blog. Even my favorite Cold War Kids song is “Golden Gate Jumpers” which isn’t some rarity or b-side, instead the most structured track off their second album Loyalty to Loyalty.

Cold War Kids, Newport Music Hall, April 9, 2013

As I recall, Cold War Kids had a free jazz style of percussion who’s lack of structure was only out anarchisted by Nathan’s janky keys. Not only was this unmistakable sound nowhere to be found from the jump, but Nathan didn’t even touch an instrument until, maybe the third song? While this is probably a direct result of the addition of a fifth member it also became quite obvious the band has a new focal point: Nathan’s voice.

Cold War Kids, Newport Music Hall, April 9, 2013

The newly formed rhythm section is indeed tighter and the strategy behind the more palatable sound will expand the Cold War Kids fanbase. Unfortunately it will also alienate those who actually like the chaos. But its all understandable as after the third album its about the bottom line not necessarily the artistic process.

Nevertheless and at risk of sounding like the stereotypical aging scenester, Cold War Kids should know better than to include one of their most brilliant songs (We Used to Vacation) in an encore and skip an entire guitar solo. Then again, if you’re trying to make all the songs sound alike you’ve got to omit the elements that made them unique.

Cold War Kids, Newport Music Hall, April 9, 2013

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