10/20/2014- The Sinclair

“Rock is dead,” a scornful teen with a punky haircut scoffed at his friend. “Pop is king,” he muttered before slouching off to the bar in disgust.

The days of legendary rockers, with names splashed across magazines and high-rise living, might indeed be over. But the Cold War Kids proved that the sound was alive and kicking inside the walls of the Sinclair. Their cult of flannel and leather jacket clad fans greeted them with wolf-whistles and drinks held high as Cold War Kids trooped onstage in plain t-shirts and duck-taped guitars.

It started out innocently enough, with lead singer Nathan Willet keeping time on the tambourine and catchy beats from “All This Could Be Yours” flooding the room. But there was nothing fluffy or perky about it; their sound was raw and rough and belted out with a fierce intensity. Cold War Kids burst into “Miracle Mile” with a frenzied turmoil of energy that ricocheted around the room while the gleeful crowd flailed about with joy. It was basement blues rock brought to a bigger stage, with no-nonsense guitars and drums that could replace your heartbeat.

Nathan’s voice has a coarse beauty to it; every bit as gritty as the hospital beds and hotel rooms he sings about, but with a compelling and powerful edge. It’s as diverse as his transition from screaming guitar to haunting piano melodies. “First” brought hand-clapping beats and unapologetically honest lyrics: “First you lose trust, then you get worried / Night after night, bar after club / Dropping like flies.”

Cold War Kids puts their soul into everything—lyrics and music alike—and that serious craftsmanship shows in person. There is no superfluous jumping around, no calls to “put your hands in the air;” just undiluted, independent rock. But don’t think for a second they don’t play with energy—the entire band plays with a passionate focus. Bassist Matt Maust and guitarist Dann Gallucci roamed the stage while Joe Plummer kept a relentless tempo and each was perfectly in tune with themselves and their craft.

“St. John,” a relatively leisurely song, got an aggressive twist as the concert was brought to a raging crescendo with band and crowd alike screaming “Yours truly on trial, I testify / I gotta keep running ’till the well runs dry.” It was a tremendous close to skillful performance and, on this night at least, there was no denying rock’s rule.

Rock Reigns Supreme: Cold War Kids
  • Great variety of new and old favorites
  • Enthusiastic crowd
  • Overly stoic at times
8.4Overall Score

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