Listen to Cold War Kids on Rhapsody...

Words & Images by: Jake Krolick

Cold War Kids :: 03.29.07 :: First Unitarian Church :: Philadelphia, PA

Cold War Kids :: 03.29.07
Psychologists believe human beings respond instinctively to the rhythmic aspect of music because our own bodies are a series of complex vibrations. Perhaps this is why one can't resist bobbing their head while listening to the Cold War Kids' robustly rhythmic brand of rock, an incisive beat that hacks into one's internal pulse.

The Cold War Kids' sticky, harsh sound isn't comprised of complex notes woven together in wild twisting patterns. Their music is firmly rooted in the simplicity of gospel and southern chain gang songs. It's not pretty but it has an edge where a tune like "Hang Me Up To Dry" can sit in your head for days upon days. It's definitely not pop music as we know it but could be in an alternate universe.

Nathan Willett - Cold War Kids :: 03.29.07
There's an iron-gated doorway in front of the First Unitarian Church. Behind this doorway, down a brightly lit corridor, sits a giant mirror. With a sharp set of eyes you can see it casting your reflection back at you before descend into the musty basement of this functioning church turned rock venue, which was stuffed full for the Kids. No alcohol was served but the amount of smuggled-in PBR Pounders was downright sacrilegious. The sweltering past-capacity room had the stench of hot, anxious fans as we settled into opener Tokyo Police Club's grand finish. Before it was over, they lit up the air with flying tambourines, fuzzy guitars and gruff vocals.

Cold War Kids :: 03.29.07
Cold War frontman Nathan Willett (guitar/piano/vocals) inconspicuously took the stage. His piercing voice flicked the switch that brought their rock machine to life. His massive chest tattoo peaked out from the neck of his tee as he pressed the keys of the piano. Drummer Matt Aveiro and bassist Matt Maust's shifts of meter and emphasis from downbeat to backbeat was truly remarkable. You couldn't get too comfortable before being jostled over to a different tempo. Even the piano was played in a very cadenced manner, almost like a drum. Willett's heavy hands forced the hammers to strike the strings violently, making them reverberate underneath the chunky rhythms, which gave rise to distinct splashes of R&B, gospel, and even hip-hop.

The scaffolding supporting the speakers shook all evening. Willett and Maust's enthusiasm was remarkable as they worked the stage like kids on a sunny playground. Only the drummer remained rooted to the same spot. As they played, they'd move around but always keep eye contact with the pack for cues and future shifts. Willett played a choreographed game of musical chairs through "Passing the Hat," where he grabbed a different instrument as he rotated spots, each of his moves perfectly timed to the backbeat.

Cold War Kids with Delta Spirit and Tokyo Police Club
A half hour in, the Cold War Kids invited members from both opening bands, the Tokyo Police Club and Delta Spirit, up for a freakout version of "St. John." In one fluid motion, CWK guitarist Jonnie Russell stepped away from his guitar and towards the wine bottle on top of the piano. He plucked a drumstick from the bottle and popped the proverbial cork, letting all hell break loose. The stage became a pack of smashing, rattle-shaking ruffians as Russell barked, "Tell my sister, tell, tell my sister." He shook off the words as Willett sang, "Old St. John on death row, he's just waiting for a pardon." The mob blazed brightly, showcasing their hip-hop moves.

Other songs like "Hospital Beds" and "Quiet Please" were tender and toned down but still a bit off axis. They tossed us a beautiful, timeless version of "God, Make Up Your Mind" and a two-song encore. It was a fast but satisfying romp through their small but growing catalog. California's Kids seemed genuine and appreciative as they stuck around to chat with their fans afterwards. I wished they'd expanded on the studio versions of their songs like they did with "St. John" but where the music lacked the stage show did not.

Check out "St. John" from this show, courtesy of Jake Krolick:

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[Published on: 4/2/07]

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shacklefordwantsapizza Mon 4/2/2007 03:01PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
All Loving Liberal White Guy Mon 4/2/2007 03:07PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

gotta love the first uni chruch. although usually, when a chruch gig sells out, they usually move it to the starlight.

toestothenose Mon 4/2/2007 05:06PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Shackle -

I hear you - If my eye's coulda showed you what my camera did'nt you'd see a house getting down.

Go see em - it we'll worth the price of admission.

Chris - they could of easily packed the Starlight - I'm kinda glad they stay at the first the atmos was better.

Marcsmall Mon 4/2/2007 05:53PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Shakle---wow, I didn't even notice that. Yeah, I try to give bands a chance, but that pic is worth a thousand words.

knibbs starstarstarstar Mon 4/2/2007 07:32PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Well I've been waiting to see these guys, but they've yet to come through Chi. Hope that Lolla get's them, cuz it doen't look like I'll be going to the Roo! 'Hang Me Out To Dry' has been stuck in my head for weeks now, it rocks.

Mr. Aaron starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/3/2007 04:59AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Mr. Aaron

I caught these guys in Atlanta last weekend. Very good band.


bristone starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/3/2007 06:16AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


you cant judge a band by its audience one particular night - i just caught this tour last week here in charleston and my friends & i are still singing praises from that night. amazing energy from not just c.w.k. but also their tourmates tokyo police club & delta spirit - great music all around - i love going to see one band and getting turned on to another. this'll be one of the standout shows of the year for me. check cwk's daytrotter sessions for some free live downloads - quite nice.

saba Tue 4/3/2007 06:25AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


thanks jake.

nanatod Tue 4/3/2007 06:52AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

knibbs, they played Lollapalooza last year on one of the early afternoon smaller stages. They were actually pretty good live.

kmilldog53 starstarstarstar Tue 4/3/2007 08:40AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Saw them at 9:30 in DC. "St. John" and "Hang me out to Dry" only good thing about the show. Sound does not carry in a larger venue. Singer has great voice, but everything else seemed off. Not enough rocking out and too much tom playing. Strange to see guitarist and bassist running around stage like crazy and hitting 2 notes.

funkyriddims starstar Tue 4/3/2007 08:53AM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
manjotar starstarstar Tue 4/3/2007 10:31AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


well put mr funky riddims,
i should start touring...

mojofolk Tue 4/3/2007 11:07AM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
mcarroll starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/3/2007 12:41PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I caught the Cold War Kids at SXSW this year and thought they were great live. It will probably go down as one of the better shows I saw this year. The crowd was loving it, and who would have thought St. John would be such a great live song?

knibbs Tue 4/3/2007 08:20PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Nanotod I thought so, I was in Florida that weekend(BOO!), but I wouldn't be surprised if they show up again this summer.

lovemusicfood starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/5/2007 08:59AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

The Church is great!! Just saw Do Make Say Think there last Friday in the Sactuary of the church not the hot basement. One of the best shows ever. If you haven't been to the church.. go. Lots of experimental indie stuff.

horhay_achoa Thu 4/5/2007 09:46AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I thought this show was awesome. It was my first at the church and will not not be my last

Qwillis starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/10/2007 08:33PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I was standin on a chair in the back, rockin the fock out for almost the entire show, Amstels a'plenty!

Crazy Energy! The shot of the crowd is very deceiving, trust me.