Cold War Kids - The Fonda - May 24, 2013

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Katrina Nattress
Cold War Kids
The Fonda
5/24/13

The Cold War Kids were blessed cursed with releasing an acclaimed debut album. Sure, 2006's Robbers & Cowards ascended the OC bred indie rockers to underground stardom with the snap of a few hipster music critics' fingers, but that's a lot to live up to, and in the subsequent years it was looking like the quintet peaked too early. But then they released Dear Miss Lonelyhearts - a concept album that's namesake comes from a Nathanael West novel in which an advice columnist has a crisis about his readers' suffering - and proved they're not to be forgotten quite yet.

On Friday night, the five-piece furthered its point by proficiently executing songs both old and new to a sold out crowd at The Fonda Theater. Led by vocalist/guitarist/pianist Nathan Willett, Cold War Kids played songs off each of their four albums during their 80-minute set. To the audience's surprise, they began their set with "Rubidoux," the slow-burning closing track off the coveted Robbers & Cowards. After supplying fans with faith that old songs would be played, they delved into 2008's "Mexican Dogs," and "Miracle Mile," the opening track and lead single off this year's release.

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Katrina Nattress
Though none of the band's albums following its debut could really live up to it, each of the 18 songs that comprised the set list felt like they belonged. During "Loner Phase" - a poppier track heavy with synth - the keys were mixed down to enhance Willett's gritty vocals and screeching guitar, and "Minimum Day" sounded grungier than ever. The band's energy also heightened the live show. Prior to recording Lonelyhearts, Jonnie Russell left the group and they recruited Dann Gallucci (Modest Mouse, Murder City Devils) to take his place on guitar. Russell is a great guitarist; however, Gallucci's experience with live shows can't be beat. He wailed on his guitar and rose his arm up to the sky, urging the crowd to get louder. His presence infected the whole band, and each member skittered around stage, never satisfied with staying in one place.

But no matter how good the new songs sounded, the crowd's reaction proved those old tracks from 2006 were still fan favorites. When they played "Hang Me Up To Dry," the audience went wild, and during "Hospital Beds," everyone sang along in a way that could not compare to any songs that came after. The Cold War Kids realized and embraced the power of their old material, and as they began their set with "Rubidoux," they ended it with "Saint John," and the crowd couldn't have been happier.

Critical Bias: I'm not a fan of Cold War Kids' second or third albums, but live they can make anything sound good.

The Crowd: Slightly older hipsters who remember Cold War Kids in their Robbers & Cowards glory days.

Overheard In The Crowd: Everyone singing along to "Hang Me Up To Dry" at the top of their lungs.

Random Notebook Dump: Is it bad that I was surprised this show was sold out? It looks like the Cold War Kids hype is still goin'!

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