Cold War Kids - The Observatory - November 8, 2013

Categories: live review

Mary Bell
Cold War Kids
Cold War Kids
The Observatory 11/8/13

Cold War Kids have always been a collection of contradictions. The band sprang fully formed from Orange County's vanilla confines with a loose, grimy blues sound; singer Nathan Willett sings about doubts and fears backed by music that always seems to know where it's going; the band's most accessible single, arguably, is "Something is Not Right With Me."

CWK's tour for their fourth album, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, released in April and named for a 1933 Nathanael West novel (which I haven't read), wrapped up at the Observatory Friday night. The band returned to the Santa Ana stage following a show before the album's release in February, and the sold-out homecoming was equal parts triumph and relief.

See also: Photos of Cold War Kids at the Observatory 11/8/13

The band blasted through a 20-song set heavy on hometown references, including a Behave Yourself EP track that Willett said was "apropos" given the afternoon's weather ("Santa Ana Winds"). Willett recently told the Weekly that the band's next album, which they're already planning in their San Pedro studio, will address a lack of "hard rockers" in their catalog that can "hit and drive" at festival shows. The evening's set list seemed tailored to those concerns; songs from EPs and all four of their albums were patched together to sustain the manic energy familiar to CWK's live act.

The band's sound has expanded beyond their bluesy, minimalist beginnings, employing synthesizers and electronic drums (to mixed results) as early as 2008's Loyalty to Loyalty, but the extra instrumentation sounds more assured on the Lonelyhearts songs - the introductory synthesizer strains of "Loner Phase" crept in early in the set and settled in seamlessly with Willett's barroom piano and signature yelp.

Bassist Matt Maust prowled the stage, stone-faced and spitting, alternately leaning on and pushing off of everyone and everything he could reach. Drummer Matt Aveiro, who showed new relish for rock thump on tracks Lonelyhearts tracks like "Lost That Easy" and "Jailbirds," pounded away but was occasionally upstaged by new guitarist Dann Gallucci and touring member Matthew Schwartz, both contenders in a competition to find out who could shake their percussion assortment more enthusiastically. (Schwartz won.)

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