The weather late Sunday night at the U.S. Cellular Stage didnâ€™t exactly put the summer into Summerfest. It was not what anyone would describe as warm. Thankfully, clattering bluesy rockers Cold War Kids didnâ€™t hang their fans out to dry, delivering a non-stop hour-long set that was low on frills but high on sweet tunes.
It took a little bit for the California-based band (which returns to Milwaukee to play at Turner Hall on Sept. 27) to warm up the crowd. The first two numbers were fun but not particularly memorable, and the mix was admittedly on the quiet side. The band then played the first hit of the set, their current single "Miracle Mile" off their recently released album "Dear Miss Lonelyhearts." The playful hit perked up the chilly audience, and Cold War Kids never looked back.
Well, maybe thatâ€™s not exactly true. Instead of forcing a lot of the new album down the crowdâ€™s throat, Cold War Kids focused on the records â€“ namely "Robbers & Cowards" and Loyalty to Loyalty" â€“ that made them an indie band on the rise several years ago.
A couple songs after "Miracle Mile," Cold War Kids came upon their next hit, a rocking rendition of their most famous song, "Hang Me Up to Dry." The number provided another jolt for the audience, who sang along with lead singer Nathan Willett. Willett himself gave his performance and lyrics an enjoyable, almost drunken swagger.
The set continued to roll along without any sign of stopping. Interactions were kept to pretty much a minimum as Cold War Kids flew from rollicking number to rollicking number. Soon after "Hang Me Up to Dry" came the chipper duo of "Royal Blue" and "Santa Ana Winds." "We Used to Vacation" brought back Willettâ€™s smartly stumbling performance, adding bluesy character to the songâ€™s compellingly confessional storytelling.
"Welcome to the Occupation" and "Red Wine, Success!" both kept the blues vibe happily going, leading into the thumping rockers "Louder Than Ever" and "Rubidoux." Cold War Kids then added a little funkiness to their indie rock formula with "Something Is Not Right With Me."
The set came to a close with a duo of drawlingly cool clankers, "Hospital Beds" and "Saint John." And I donâ€™t mean "clanker" as a negative. The unvarnished vibe gave the two songs the kind of real, addictively grimy blues-rock grit that Iâ€™m just a sucker for. Â Â
Admittedly, you kind of have to enjoy Cold War Kidsâ€™ modesty and lack of showy polish. As previously noted, there wasnâ€™t much in the way of interactions â€“ just some awkward teasing of their upcoming show at Turner Hall this September. There were no crazy dance breaks, snazzy light tricks or eye-catching backgrounds. There wasnâ€™t even an encore (though they played everything I and fans would likely want to hear).
They werenâ€™t there to provide a big show. They just played a good show with good music. And Iâ€™m okay with that.Â
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published Feb. 10, 2016
Johnny Depp was surrounded by orange people when he played Willy Wonka in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Now he gets to play one himself: Donald Trump, in Funny Or Die's faux-biopic "The Art of the Deal: The Movie."
Published Feb. 9, 2016
On the 26th day of the second month of the 2016th year, "Fuller House" will be unleashed upon the human species, and the world will know darkness and despair unlike any other. In the meantime, here's the first official footage of the rebooted sitcom.
Published Feb. 8, 2016
Yesterday, the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers in what could only be technically described as "a competitive football game." But who actually won yesterday's great American unofficial tribute to commercialism? Here are the real winners and losers of Super Bowl 50.
Published Feb. 6, 2016
Filmmaker Brian Oakes remembers James Foley well, growing up together as friends and remaining tightly knit all the way until Jim's abrupt death. And it's that James Foley - his life, not his death - that Oakes hopes to pay tribute to with "Jim: The James Foley Story."
Published Feb. 5, 2016
OnMilwaukee recently caught up with Milwaukee-born animator Owen Klatte to talk about the making of "Anomalisa," the process behind turning puppets into people, stop-motion sex and the movie's Oscar odds against "Inside Out."
Published Feb. 4, 2016
Are you exhausted by Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the media hullabaloo constantly around it? Do you have about ten free seconds of time to waste? Then you might just love TrumpDonald.org.
Published Feb. 4, 2016
Want to know why you crave those cheese curds? According to a recent study from researchers at the University of Michigan, cheese triggers the same part of the brain as several hard drugs do.
Published Feb. 4, 2016
The Milwaukee Brewers are bringing back their postgame concert series with two performances set for the 2016 season: pop star Andy Grammer and country performer Kip Moore.
Published Feb. 2, 2016
By the time I landed in Park City, Utah Friday for the final days of the Sundance Film Festival, most of the party was dying down. However, the important parts - the movies - were very much still in action. Here are the best and worst of what I saw.
Published Jan. 29, 2016
As we speak, my bucket list is in the process of becoming one entry shorter. I am currently on a plane to Utah, about to attend my first ever Sundance Film Festival. And even though this year's festival is reaching its end, the buzz is still high.