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  • Live Review: The Cold War Kids – The Music Box @ Fonda, Los Angeles, CA

    Thu, 25 Sep 2008 14:50:30

    Live Review: The Cold War Kids – The Music Box @ Fonda, Los Angeles, CA - The indie rockers show a sold-out crowd how they transcended the blogosphere

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    With blogs emblazoning their prospects for "indie's next best thing" on a twice-daily basis, it's become increasingly difficult for solidly talented acts to separate from the chaff. The endless cavalcade of MP3s flooding the web ensures that every niche has a fresh hit before the previous one has had time to ripen. As a result, a music industry that has already lost the attention span for full albums now seems too ADHD to even spend quality time with a three-minute single. "The fact that so much music is available can really decrease the lover of music's love for the music," Cold War Kids' bassist Matt Maust reflected in our recent interview with him. Over their short career, the Kids have found the only way to evade this disposable-band attitude; they constantly turned out irresistible indie rock tunes until their name rose above the wash. The sold-out Los Angeles crowd that overflowed to the bar and packed The Music Box's mezzanine was a true testament to the insatiable buzz the Cold War Kids have fostered, and the band delivered a live show to remind us why they've been among the handful of blog-born bands to do this.

    Fully aware that their sophomore album, Loyalty to Loyalty, is the keystone to solidifying their place in the scene, the Long Beach quartet loaded their hour plus set with new cuts. Luckily for fans, Loyalty's grittier, more rocking sound feels built for the stage. Possessed by the incessantly fevered pulse of drummer Matt Aviero, the band burnt through the darkly distorted blues rock of "Mexican Dogs" before careening into the heretic paroxysms of their stomping new single, "Something is Not Right With Me." As lead singer Nathan Willett howled the song's hook, his outstretched, jittering hands seemed to pen the lyric's haunting undercurrents on the air. The din calmed to a smolder on "Everyman I Fall For," allowing the anchoring omnipresence of Aviero's kick to serve as the main backbone of Nathan's rending narrative. Embodying the pack mentality that is their latest record's namesake, the singer refused a spotlight even when solo on the track, instead opting to blanket the stage in an eerie and affecting darkness.

    Even with the warm reception of these new songs, it was Cold War Kids' time-tested singles that truly captured the crowd. Maust's opening bass riff on "Hang Me Out To Dry" spread the fervor that consumed the band throughout the crowd, turning the chorus into a nearly deafening sing along. The symbiotic energy that filled the theatre turned the entire audience into a zealous choir by the closing line. The few flat notes on the vocals of "Hospital Beds" did nothing to diffuse the energy, as the rhythm section powered through a syncopated beat that inspired more than its fair share of dancing.

    Despite the crowd's word-for-word familiarity with the band's Internet favorites, even the celebrated indie band fell victim to the music industry's current fixation with singles. A few of the toned down, lesser-known tracks noticeably loosened the band's grip on the audience. Back by the bar, the roar of talking during these tracks made it difficult for the diehards to hear, and one girl there even decided to read the three paragraph narrative written on the show poster instead of watching the Kids perform one of their less instantly gratifying tunes. These few short lulls were quickly extinguished the second a memorable riff boomed from the PA's, and the empathic sing along of the hymn-like "Saint John" cut the crowd loose and left them wanting more. Despite the frightening display of the flighty attention spans that contemporary music is at war with, it's reassuring to see that the Cold War Kids have the musical ammunition to win their battle.

    —Jay Watford

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