Cold War Kids Deliver a Free Show to a Lucky Few in Miami

Cold War Kids at The Fonda in 2013.
Cold War Kids at The Fonda in 2013.
Photo by Neon Tommy via Wikipedia Commons

Cold War Kids
Lou La Vie, Miami
Thursday, June 12, 2015

Better Than: Anything else you can get for free.

Only Miami’s most punctual freeloaders were able to witness 14 songs of high-energy rock ’n’ roll last night. At 8:15 p.m., on the corner of 14th and Biscayne, hundreds of tardy bargain hunters were barricaded from entering the large space where California indie rockers Cold War Kids were scheduled to play a free pop-up show, sponsored by Pandora and Lexus. In the 45 minutes before the band took the stage, entrants could take advantage (and did take advantage) of the open bar, get their photographs taken inside a new Lexus, or stare at the pop-culture-infused art featuring cartoon characters like Captain Caveman hanging on the wall.

Once the clock struck 9 p.m., the five Cold War Kids walked onstage nonchalantly, taking their places and grabbing instruments. And before some even knew they had taken the stage, singer Nathan Willett let out his trademark androgynous wail on “All This Could Be Yours.” Clad in a black T-shirt with a gold necklace, Willet puts on a passionate performance whether banging his tambourine, playing guitar, or sitting behind the keyboard. The setting was intimate enough that you could easily see the veins in his neck protruding as he screamed with abandon.

Covered in blue light, Cold War Kids unleashed a ferocious set.
Covered in blue light, Cold War Kids unleashed a ferocious set.
Photo by Ryan Pfeffer

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It’s been nearly a decade since Cold War Kids' debut album, Robbers & Cowards, was released, and they sound just as energized as they did back then. Guitarist Dann Gallucci and bassist Matt Maust mouth the words to each song even though they were nowhere near a microphone. Midway through the set, a song from that first album — “Hang Me Up to Dry” — brought out the most screams of recognition from the audience. That song’s secret weapon is the relentless banging of the piano keys that give it a blues, almost gospel flavor, which was a powerful feat considering its lyrics could be used in a laundry detergent jingle.

Not content to play only melodies from its past, Cold War Kids busted out the impressive new songs “First” and “Hot Coals." When listening to them live, it's hard to feel like Cold War Kids haven't slipped through the cracks for most mainstream music listeners. “Hang Me Up to Dry” was a song that grabs you like few others from the first listen, and Cold War Kids have successfully reached those heights repeatedly. Most notably with the set closer, the paranoid Britpop reminiscent “Something Is Not Right With Me." 

This hourlong concert was nothing if not a great reminder to go back and enjoy the band's output.

And also, it was all free. Which is a good thing. Pandora hasn't announced any more pop-up shows in Miami, but when and if it does, you can bet we'll be there bright and early. 

Cold War Kids' Setlist:

  • All This Could Be Yours
  • Miracle Mile
  • One Song at a Time
  • We Used to Vacation
  • Audience
  • First
  • Louder Than Ever
  • Hot Coals
  • Hang Me Up to Dry
  • Minimum Day
  • Drive Desperate
  • Hospital Beds
  • Something Is Not Right With Me

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