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 April 27, 2016
The Milwaukee Film Festival may still be months away, but that doesn't mean awesome things aren't happening at Milwaukee Film. Take, for instance, yesterday, when news broke that the organization was chosen to receive a $10,000 grant from AMPAS.
Published April 25, 2016
We're still all broken up about the sudden, shocking death of Prince. Thankfully, several Milwaukee venues are offering opportunities to continue the Prince mourning process this week and pay tribute to his artistic genius in both music and movies.
Published April 24, 2016
Mere hours after the news broke about Prince's shocking, sudden death, I chatted with Frightened Rabbit drummer Grant Hutchison about our favorite Prince memories and music moments, as well as the making of the Scottish indie rock band's new album.
Published April 22, 2016
The weather is getting nicer. Baseball has begun. Yep, summer is here, and you know what that means: Time to head indoors to a dark theater to watch movies! Here's what to expect from this year's summer slate.
Published April 21, 2016
David Bowie. Merle Haggard. George Martin. Phife. Glenn Frey - 2016 has been exceptionally cruel and brutal in taking away some of our most universally beloved musicians and cultural icons. This morning, it unfortunately added to its list: Prince.
Published April 20, 2016
Gary Tanin has a special friendship with David Bowie's longtime producer Tony Visconti, one started on a CompuServe chat room back in 1993. Two decades later, their friendship has endured - and led to Tanin producing the debut record for singer-songwriter Jack Spann.
Published April 19, 2016
It's coming up on almost a year since WTMJ-TV anchor Mike Jacobs retired, and a replacement has still yet to be named. There are Internet rumors and rumblings, however, that the spot may soon be officially filled - and by a familiar face. And now we know.
Published April 19, 2016
The St. Louis Cardinals are the worst. Thankfully, the merry pranksters of sports journalism at Deadspin agree and, thus far, have decided to dedicate a post about every single Cardinal loss this season. Schadenfreude away, rest of the MLB!
Published April 18, 2016
Jim Gaffigan is no stranger to Milwaukee, and based on a video posted to the comic's Instagram earlier today, it would seem that Milwaukee love has rubbed off a bit on his daughter.
Published April 18, 2016
Mondays are the worst, so here's a photo of Aaron Rodgers and Chris Pratt hanging out and grilling steaks and just being the coolest fishing buddies in the entire world to make everything seem a little bit better.