TVD Live: Cold War
Kids at Beachland
Ballroom, 11/3

Anytime I read the words Cold War Kids my mind starts playing their song, “Hang Me Up To Dry.” That funky bass line starts it out, a little maracas thrown in there, and I’m dancing around like a fool. This doesn’t pan out too well for me if I’m at work, but thankfully most of the time when this happens I’m safely tucked away in my apartment. 

On Thursday of last week I was given the opportunity to check out Cold War Kids at the Beachland Ballroom.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think I’d get to be at this show. I was starting my third shift job that night, I hadn’t bought tickets because I knew I probably should sleep before work, and then the show sold out. Thankfully, the Beachland helped me out, and I decided sleep was for the weak. Let music fuel my work night. So, I jumped in my car, camera and notebook in tow, and arrived at the Beachland.

There’s something about seeing Cold War Kids perform live that is truly memorable. Their setup on stage is kind of strange. They have drummer Matt Aveiro tucked away at the back of the stage and the front of the stage is very empty—just a few microphone stands and pedals shoved to the forefront of the stage.

What’s memorable isn’t just hearing their music come to life; it’s the energy between the three guys at the front of the stage. Nathan Willett‘s vocals spill forth from him, while guitarist Jonnie Russell‘s licks dance around what Willett releases from his mouth.

Maust is an entity that seems to function on another plane; his bass is as worn as his shoes. He ebbs and flows across the stage, sometimes leaning against Russell or pushing Willett closer towards the piano tucked against the righthand corner of the stage. Their performance doesn’t feel like an energy transfer between beings, but rather like the cosmic battle between entities in space.

Hearing their music come to life is an otherworldly experience. It’s hard to take in. On one hand, you’re watching the stage, absorbed by the movement of Maust, impressed by Willett belting out the lyrics, by Aveiro’s solid drumming and Russell’s guitar playing. But on the other hand, you’re letting this music ooze in your ears and in complete awe that it sounds just the same live as it does on your record at home.

Their set was solid. The only song I really craved hearing that wasn’t played was “We Used to Vacation.” It has always been one of my favorites and would have brought my whole Cold War Kids experience to a full circle to hear that live. Next show, perhaps.

Opening for Cold War Kids that night was Chicago band, Young Man. The brainchild of Colin Caulfield, Young Man in live performance boasts a five-piece consisting of two guitars, bass, synth and set. They’ve got this dreamy guitar sound dipped in synth. At first the vocals reminded me of Painted Palms, but that isn’t quite right. There’s also something reminiscent of Ben Gibbard‘s voice, but only on a periphery hearing.

The most memorable tune from their set was probably “Nothing.” It features an ambient usage of pedal effects. There were many moments where extended solos bloomed into beautiful, climactic events during their set. I’d say it’s a safe bet that Young Man is going to blow up after touring with Cold War Kids.

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