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 Oct. 24, 2016
Of all the doomed characters on last night's season premiere of "The Walking Dead," the one with truly the least hope of making it out unscathed was the AMC show itself. And it sadly lived down to expectations.
Published Oct. 21, 2016
If one really wants to venture into the depths of cinema's shadowy creeps and nightmarish creations this Halloween, your best bet wouldn't be a movie theater this year. It's be the Milwaukee Art Museum's new exhibit, "Haunted Screens," opening today.
Published Oct. 20, 2016
Some months, it feels like there's nothing for anybody being added to Netflix. November will not be one of those months, with "The Jungle Book," "The Crown," "Gilmore Girls" and "Boyhood" headed your way. Here's what to expect - and what to watch while you can.
Published Oct. 19, 2016
You probably didn't need much of a teaser trailer to start getting excited about "Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2." But here's one anyways, released today by returning director James Gunn, and it certainly doesn't hurt!
Published Oct. 17, 2016
Fans of Milwaukee Film certainly know Kristopher Pollard, the organization's affable membership manager. But this weekend, they'll be able to get to know Kpolly, the artist, thanks to his upcoming "Slap Fights" gallery, opening Friday night at Hot Pop.
Published Oct. 14, 2016
I hit 23 movies at the Milwaukee Film Festival this year. I know: WEAK. But luckily for me, and all the other film festival junkies out there looking back regretfully at the screenings we missed, many of the selections are still out there. Here's where to find them.
Published Oct. 11, 2016
For a seemingly quiet, low-key suburb, Hales Corners is full of surprises. Case in point: Tanpopo, a restaurant bringing brimming bowls of authentic ramen to the world of Milwaukee suburbia - and cooking up a pleasantly sized following as a result.
Published Oct. 11, 2016
As anybody who attended even just one of the 283 films scattered about the city over the previous two weeks can attest, the Milwaukee Film Festival had another great year in 2016. And now, the numbers are in to statistically prove it.
Published Oct. 10, 2016
Steve-O is bringing his one-man show of physical anarchy and personal anecdotes to Turner Hall. But before he hits the stage - possibly literally - we chatted with the "Jackass" star about meshing stunts with stand-up and the insane exploit that even he passed on.
Published Oct. 7, 2016
For over a century, The Bosch has stood guard on the corner as a place of refuge and relaxation for those coming, going and staying in Hales Corners. And now that its corner is moving, so is the historic tavern, thanks to a "Tug the Tavern" event on Saturday afternoon.