TVD Live: Cold War Kids at the 9:30 Club, 4/11

The Cold War Kids walked onto the stage of the sold-out 9:30 Club Thursday night without saying a word. The silence of the band seemed to make the warm and endearing crowd cheer a bit louder than usual, and the California-based foursome were well-received by the ecstatic audience. You could almost see the excitement in the air as clear as the haze pouring over the stage floor; it was obvious that something great was about to happen.

The band took to their instruments like seasoned warriors preparing for battle. They seemed to be a band on a mission, having no time to stop and give a moment of small talk, chit-chat, or the usual pre-show banter. With no verbal distractions and not so much as a hello, they went right into the night’s first song, “Loner Phase,” off their new album Dear Miss Lonelyhearts.

The loud cheers of an invigorated crowd began again, until Nathan Willet, the band’s front man, finally spoke in between the first and second song. You could almost hear footsteps through the club as the crowd hung on every word that passed through his lips. Willet simply stated, “We are going to play a few new ones for you tonight,” and then went right into the next song “Mexican Dogs,” from their beloved 2008 album, Loyalty to Loyalty.

Willet was joined on stage by band members Matt Maust (bass), Matt Aveiro (drums, percussion), and Dann Gallucci (guitar), who is best known for his pre-CWK work with bands Modest Mouse and Murder City Devils. Gallucci replaced previous Cold War Kids guitarist Jonnie Russell in early 2012. This is the second time I’ve seen this band play with Gallucci on board, and his chemistry with the band is unbelievably flawless.

Having had the release of their new album earlier this month, the band has set out on tour to promote the album relentlessly, stopping in most major US cities already and continuing on to Europe, Canada, and Australia within the next few weeks.

The set list included most of the classic Cold War Kids tunes you would expect to hear at their show with new tracks peppered throughout. When they got about halfway into their set, the crowd started off the lyrics to “Hang Me Out to Dry” before Willet even got a word out himself. The crowd clapped along through the rest of the performance, and the band concluded their set with the tune “Hospital Beds,” which was followed by a “Thank you, DC—goodnight” from Willet.

The Cold War Kids left the stage, but the audience didn’t move, and everyone stood in place applauding, awaiting the encore to begin. The volume of the fans at this point was monumental.

Before the encore, the crowd was the loudest it had been all night. The band took to the stage once more and grabbed their instruments. “It’s nice to be in DC,” Willet said. Without any hesitation, Cold War Kids went right into another fan favorite, “We Used to Vacation.” The three-song encore also included “Minimum Day” and “Something is Not Right With Me.”

At least for me, Cold War Kids are an indie band with obvious blues-based roots. Their catchy bass grooves and guitar hooks are complemented by Willet’s incredible vocals. He sings almost as a tenor and hits a top range that most indie band vocalists don’t dare try. When you mix his vocals with the talented cast of players in this band, you get a undeniably memorable live show every time; the Cold War Kids keep getting better.

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