Monday, October 23, 2006

Cold War Kids (Live at the Hideout)

(My humblest apologies to drummer Matt Aveiro for not including him in the set of pictures above. My camera's too shite and my skillz with it are too weak to be able to zoom back behind the drumset and get any kind of picture in the low concert lighting. Stay gold, though, Ponyboy--you're a hell of a fucking drummer.)

Went to the Hideout with LK on Saturday to see the Cold War Kids for the third time in five months. I was proud of these young pups for nailing their debut as headliners, and even more proud of the audience for being so loving and supportive. "Hang Me Out to Dry" and "Saint John" are turning out to be fantastic communal shout-alongs (lead singer Nathan Willett was actually harmonizing with us during the "Hang Me Out to Dry" set-closer before the encore), and when Aveiro's snare broke as they were kicking into "Expensive Tastes," a girl in the front row started clapping where the snare hits should have been, and about half of the rest of the crowd picked up on it and carried the rhythm until the drums were fixed. It was a sold-out show, and this crowd wanted to be there. I was up near the front, so if the indie rock salute (as John Roderick once brilliantly called it: arms folded across one's chest, weight back on one's heels, body motionless and face expressionless) was being given near the back, I wouldn't have been able to see it anyway, but, regardless, I tend to think there probably wasn't all that much hipster posturing going on that night. It takes no little effort to get to the Hideout, more effort than it's worth to show up simply to be snide. The band was feeling the love for Chicago, too. They say plenty of nice things about the venue over at their official site (scroll down to the entry dated 10-20-06), sweetly calling it one of "the most vibey rooms in this country." The fact that they just walked right in the front door before the show, like a little gang of exquisitely relaxed housecats who'd just woken up from an afternoon nap on a warm windowsill, and wandered around, chatted some folks up, and grabbed some drinks speaks volumes to the Hideout's atmosphere and to the band's real-deal-ness.

The first time I caught the band, when they opened for Tapes 'n Tapes, I was mesmerized by Willett--his voice, his presence, the weird way he was banging on his chest like a conga drum. The second time out it was all bassist Matt Maust, all the time. Last weekend, I couldn't take my eyes off guitarist Jonnie Russell. Brutha's got it going on. His wiggly guitar sound is, like, the meat of the whole band. Everything is built around what he's doing. Their songs are extraordinarily percussion-driven, to be sure, but he's creating the whole vibrant midrange that allows the drumming and maraca-rattling and bass-farting to be as striking as they are. He gives the jams a dock to swim away from and back to. And he does this all without sacrificing an ounce of excitement in his own playing. Not to mention that he can sit in on piano when Willett just wants to rock the mic and provides perfect, unassuming, unobstrusive falsetto vocal harmonies. Amazing. My attention span is pretty short these days, and I should be sick of these guys by now. But I'm not. As Sean Moeller remarked when he had the band 'round the Daytrotter headquarters earlier this summer, "most bands are fucking lucky to have one dude with charisma" and yet they, incredibly, have four. Guess I have to make the effort to see them live at least one more time to finally give Aveiro his due.

More pics over on my Flickr page.

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