Armed with their superb new EP, Behave Yourself
, Long Beach-based Cold War Kids (featured in current OC Weekly)
kicked off a short tour at the Wiltern with a highly anticipated sold out show. Hordes of fans wrapped around the LA venue, huddled together in the chilly temperatures in the hopes of securing a wristband for front-pit access.
The Show: Matt Maust emerged from the darkness and proceeded to dispense a dub-influenced bass line backed by the swirling shuffle beat of drummer Matt Aveiro. Vocal howls from Nathan Willett prefaced the boozy swagger of "I've Seen Enough," punctuated by the moments of phased guitar by Jonnie Russell. Suddenly, the cavernous Wiltern felt like an intimate venue--packed to the hilt with all your closest friends.
Alternating between hollow reverb and rapid picking tremolo guitars, "Hair Down" maintained a high level of energy. Russell momentarily switched from guitar to the piano to hammer out the notes of "Audience," the grabby opener from Behave Yourself. The push and pull beat of "Red Wine Success!" was prefaced by Willett mentioning the song was about his brother. While the stage is fairly large at the Wiltern, all four Cold War Kids were within an arms reach of each other and would sporadically collide like a pinball game adding another visual element to the four video screens behind them.
"Coffee Spoon" stirred the audience as Willett's vocal cooing gave the song a daydream effect, which segued nicely into the ethereal guitar notes of "Dreams Old Men Dream." Crowd participation in the form of clapping spontaneously occurred when Maust started the instantly recognizable bass wobble of "Hang Me Out To Dry". Willett thanked the audience and gave a shout out to Long Beach before starting "Santa Ana Winds," accompanied by the video screens detailing the maps of the Los Angeles Metro.
Willett moved to the piano for the saloon sounds of "Hospital Beds" that transitioned perfectly into a stunning cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Long As I See The Light," which had the crowd singing along. "Saint John" found Willett turning into a man possessed as he frantically waved his arms like a Pentecostal preacher. Given the recent tragedy in Haiti, "We Used To Vacation" was extremely poignant when Willett sang,"Still things could be much worse, natural disasters." It served as a good reminder to make a donation to the relief efforts, because things could really be much worse.
Opener Alec Ounsworth, formerly of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, worked through a number of songs from his new solo album, Mo Beauty.
The Crowd: Having attended numerous Cold War Kids shows in past venues like Detroit Bar and Spaceland, it was still surprising to see a larger than normal contingent of under 21 folks. Everyone was bundled up in sweaters and coats since it was freezing outside.
1. "I've Seen Enough"
2. "Hair Down"
4. "Red Wine Success!"
5. "Welcome To The Occupation"
6. "Coffee Spoon"
7. "Dreams Old Men Dream"
9. "Hang Me Out To Dry"
10. "Santa Ana Winds"
11. "Hospital Beds"
12. "Long As I See The Light" (CCR cover)
13. "Saint John"
14. "Something's Not Right With Me"
15. "Mexican Dogs"
16. "Tell Me In The Morning"
18. "We Used To Vacation"