Cold War Kids heat things up with album preview

Cold War Kids performing

Cold War Kids previewed some of its new music at the Pandora Summer Party July 31.


The indie four-piece band Cold War Kids, which drops a new album this month, is no stranger to Chicago.

The L.A.-based group, formed in 2004, releases its fifth album, Hold My Home, Oct. 21. The group kicked off one of the city’s biggest music weeks and previewed some of its new music at the Pandora Summer Party July 31.

It’s hard to guess what sound the album will take since the previous albums and EPs each have their own mood, the first showcasing the band’s taste for blues-based rock in 2004’s Robbers & Cowards, then expressing a darker side two years later in Loyalty to Loyalty.

Cold War Kids chose a song from its second album to start off the free Pandora show at Concord Music Hall. “I’ve Seen Enough” held its blues sound together with a strong beat by drummer Matt Aveiro. Fans were entranced by the dramatic start, which isn’t hard when listening to front man Nathan Willett’s delicately soulful voice.

A crowd-pleaser was the catchy “Louder than Ever” from the band’s third album, Mine is Yours, released in 2011. Its anthemic quality, although a bit blurred by the artistic stray away from the chorus, had the crowd chanting.

“Miracle Mile” from last year’s Dear Miss Lonelyhearts album also ignited excitement in the crowd — and within the band itself. Guitarist Dan Gallucci and bass guitarist Matt Maust roamed the stage, switching places from one end of the platform to another. Cold War Kids presented a roomy sound that held hints of an anthem.

Alternating paces and edge was delivered in “We Used to Vacation,” from the group’s fourth EP. The blues-rock was there, especially as Willett sat at the piano.

It was easy to point out Willett’s excitement for the band’s iconic blues-rock “Hang Me Up to Dry” from Robbers & Cowards. Everyone in the room knew this song, and perhaps Willett took comfort in that. He leaned forward into the audience with his mic, and sprang to all corners of the stage. Maust took part, too, squatting at the edge of the stage to be closer to fans.

So do any of these sounds of the past exist in the new album? The single from the newest album, “All This Could be Yours,” made a return to a piano backdrop with an evermore soulful Willett, who was expressive with the tambourine during the chorus. The audience clapped with the song, and cheered on Maust’s solo, strong and independent at the end.

“Hot Coals,” another song off the new album, was deeper in sound and lyrics, and perhaps suggests a more adult album to come.

The group’s dark-washed jeans paired with graphic and striped tees resonated well with the loft-like space. The venue’s presentation seemed effortlessly cool with its rustic brick walls, black-coated pipes and thematic turquoise-and-blue lighting spreading its rays on the floor.

The band members were energetic and chaotic in movement, but Cold War Kids didn’t fall short in performing passionately. Everything from Willett’s soft hand movements that gestured to the beat in new song “Hot Coals,” to bass guitarist Maust’s comfort with the audience allowed fans to close their eyes and sway to the band’s sound and lyrics. Cold War Kids knows how to control its delivery in its deeper songs.

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