The Brag Media
News October 27, 2015

Live Review: Cold War Kids, Sydney

Former Editor

After nine years together, four albums and eight EPs, there is no question as to whether a band will rise through the ranks of mid-weight indie rock and send their soaring Americana through the roof of arenas, or whether they’ll maintain a healthy enough fanbase to warrant world tours and keep modesty at the forefront.

When Californian quartet Cold War Kids released Dear Miss Lonelyhearts in April this year – pregnant with literary references to a certain LA columnist and Bowie-esque sheen – the band proved their relevance through reinvention. Last night’s Splendour in the Grass sideshow shoved all of that hard work in their most dubious fans’ faces, their brave new tracks accompanied by some even braver onstage camaraderie.

While Sydney’s Metro Theatre seemed to drown frontman Nathan Willett’s vocals at times, it’s fair to say they were on form last night – mostly driven by the show-stealing antics of balding bassist Matt Maust. During tracks like Hang Me Up To Dry (from 2006 EP Up in Rags) and Robbers & Cowards offcuts like Hospital Beds and Passing The Hat, Maust held his leg up, half-cocked, before delicately kicking Willet. When Willett took to the keyboard for Passing The Hat Maust slowly rested his head against his back. This was between the intermittent touching of each band member with soft, flat pansy hands.

The band swapped instruments throughout, Willett, guitarist Jonnie Russel and touring member Matthew Schwartz all took turns at the maraca; other catalogue moments came when Schwartz played the tambourine with a drumstick while skipping from stage right to left, his clapper stick dance during Welcome To The Occupation, and the casual bonding between Maust and Russel when they played to each other, eyes cast down at their furious, masturbatory strumming.

While the set borrowed much from this year’s LP (Miracle Mile, Lost That Easy, Loner Phase) 2011’s Mine Is Yours received the most fervor. Tracks like Louder Than Ever and Royal Blue would have been met with incredible sing-alongs if Willett weren’t slightly behind the beat, throwing off those aiming to join him verbatim.

Such moments did add weight to the thin tightrope they walked last night. Instances when Maust took a knee and rounded his body for a spell or when Russel’s guitar solo during Hang Me Up To Dry was inextricably humbled as he spent half of it behind the 6ft amp, didn’t do much to disguise their exhaustion. But the band’s trademark, fast-paced tempo changes and Willett’s indelible pipe power kept the crowd a malleable tub of candy-coloured putty in their unpretentious hands.


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