The weather late Sunday night at the U.S. Cellular Stage didn’t exactly put the summer into Summerfest. It was not what anyone would describe as warm. Thankfully, clattering bluesy rockers Cold War Kids didn’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 that’s not exactly true. Instead of forcing a lot of the new album down the crowd’s throat, Cold War Kids focused on the records – namely "Robbers & Cowards" and Loyalty to Loyalty" – 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 Willett’s smartly stumbling performance, adding bluesy character to the song’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 don’t mean "clanker" as a negative. The unvarnished vibe gave the two songs the kind of real, addictively grimy blues-rock grit that I’m just a sucker for.
Admittedly, you kind of have to enjoy Cold War Kids’ modesty and lack of showy polish. As previously noted, there wasn’t much in the way of interactions – 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 wasn’t even an encore (though they played everything I and fans would likely want to hear).
They weren’t there to provide a big show. They just played a good show with good music. And I’m okay with that.
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 23, 2015
Lord Huron doesn't quite trek to the stars like it said it might on its new album "Strange Trails," but the folk band is still going places. Its dreamy musical vistas have nabbed a big audience -- so much so that demand moved the band's return to The Pabst Theater on Saturday, April 25 over to the Riverside. Before then, I got a chance to chat with frontman Ben Schneider about "Strange Trails," the stories that come with it and going to space (at some point).
Published April 22, 2015
I've had some less than flattering things to say about found footage in recent years, calling it things like "the worst of today's low budget Hollywood filmmaking" and "a thing that shouldn't exist anymore." So let's all take a moment and marvel at the fact that in the new techno-horror flick "Unfriended," the found footage-esque visual gimmick not only works, but it's the best part of the movie. The result isn't much for scares, but it is scarily entertaining.
Published April 21, 2015
Welcome back to Unceremonious Overqualified Movie Dump Theatre. The most recent entry: "Child 44," which features an impressive roster of stars but was cut down to a mere 510 theaters just a few weeks before its release. It was a bad omen and unfortunately an accurate one as well, as the apparent lack of confidence from the studio equals a lack of quality on the screen.
Published April 20, 2015
The Maine is currently on the road right now, touring in support of its latest album "American Candy," released just last month on March 31. Its current tour lands at The Rave on Wednesday, April 22. Before then, OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with guitarist Jared Monaco about the new album, as well as his appreciation for The Rave and ... NSYNC.
Published April 18, 2015
Before the fairy tale riff "Peter and the Starcatcher" starts its run at the Milwaukee Rep on Tuesday, April 21, OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with director Blake Robison about this particular Peter Pan retelling, making actors fly and why revisionist fairy tales are currently all the rage.
Published April 17, 2015
The Wisconsin State Fair's Main Stage lineup this summer features some of the biggest names the celebration has wrangled up in recent note. And the biggest of the bunch - or at least certainly the most unusual - is tightrope artist extraordinaire Nik Wallenda. OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to talk one-on-one with the stuntman about preparing for another life-threatening performance and being in a highwire family dynasty that shows no sign of stopping.
Published April 17, 2015
The Riverside's distant past will become the present as the legendary theater will play host to two screenings of the beloved 1942 classic "Casablanca" Friday and Saturday night. And to complete the blast to the past vibe of the event, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will perform Max Steiner's famous score alongside the movie.
Published April 15, 2015
Eugene Ionesco's 1950 play "The Bald Soprano" - the first the famed playwright ever wrote - is an absurdist classic. It's one of the most performed shows in France with a permanent repertory spot at Theatre de la Huchette since 1957 and a large number of interpretations. It's safe to say, however, that few to none of those interpretations featuring digital actors getting beamed in like "Star Trek" characters.
Published April 14, 2015
The Blue Man Group is famous for several things: funky instruments, those old Intel ads, Tobias Funke proclaiming that "I blue myself!" on "Arrested Development" and, of course, the whole being covered in blue paint thing. But one of the crucial elements of the Blue Man Group is that they don't talk. So imagine my surprise in getting to interview a Blue Man (at least the transcription would be easy).
Published April 14, 2015
Tomorrow night, after weeks of anticipation and online voting, the Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDIs) will name the winners at a ceremony at the Potawatomi Event Center. However, there's still 24 hours left to learn about these community-impacting individuals and organizations and vote for the Wells Fargo People's Choice Award before the polls close and the numbers are tallied up.