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Concert Review: ‘Cold War Kids’ rock indie in O.C.

Katie Madden
Arts Editor

Long Beach indie rock group Cold War Kids performed at The Observatory in Santa Ana last Thursday.

The show began as the openers, LA.-based Superhumanoids took the stage. Their lush electronic and experimental sound, paired with the lead singer, Sarah Chernoff’s ethereal voice put the audience into a dreamy, blissful state.

However, when the band asked the audience if they were excited to see the Cold War Kids play, the crowd immediately snapped out of the trance and wildly cheered.

The crowd grew antsy as the crew prepared the stage for the headliner, yet they did not complain.

The hip, denim-clad, cigarette smoking concert goers were entertaining enough to provide for excellent people watching or very interesting conversations.

The moment the lights went down and the Cold War Kids walked on stage, they had the audience’s rapt attention as they jumped into playing a new song, “Dear Miss Lonelyhearts” from their upcoming album.

Even though most of the audience did not know the new song yet, they responded with excited dancing and cheers while others stood entranced with their eyes fixed on front man, Nathan Willett.

Throughout the night Willett’s strong and soulful vocals wooed the room as he displayed his unique talent, weaving intricate tales with fascinating lyrics and passionate intonations.

The second song, “Mexican Dogs” a more upbeat tune from their second album, “Loyalty to Loyalty”, had the crowd jumping.

The next song and their latest single, “Miracle Mile”, had the crowd enthusiastically shouting the chorus “Come up for air,” with Willett.

The band kept up the excitement with new and old songs “I’ve Seen Enough,” “Audience,” “Minimum Day,” and “Loner Phase.”

When Willett was not playing guitar or piano his hands danced madly as he often made and held intense eye contact with different people in the crowd.

Fan-favorites “Rubidoux,” “Louder Than Ever,” and “Hang Me Up to Dry” riled the crowd up and a group of guys attempted to start a short-lived mosh that was stopped by Willett himself who told them to calm down, which produced a cheer from many of the more-mellow concert goers.

Later in the show, Willett apologized and explained, “Sorry guys, sometimes the substitute teacher in me comes out.”

The band remained strong the whole night; Matt Maust’s bass supported fans’ favorite beats, Jonnie Russell’s falsetto provided a fun contrast and Matt Aveiro’s drumming kept the audience’s hearts hopping.

Their set was surprisingly and delightfully long and after seven more songs, they ended on a high note with the poignant story of a recovering alcoholic father in”We Used to Vacation.”

The band then left the stage for a moment, leaving behind fans begging for more songs and lamenting that they had not yet played “Saint John,” arguably the band’s most beloved song.

Willett came out to the stage alone and at the piano he played a beautiful solo of a brand new song, “Bottled Affection” that was a romantic trigger among couples in the audience.

The rest of the band returned and kicked up the pace again with two other crowd pleasers, “Hospital Beds” and “Something Is Not Right with Me.”

As the night came to a close, Willett profusely thanked the audience for attending and finally, the first deep bass notes of “Saint John” played, sending the crowd into joyful pandemonium.

With a final bow, Willett and the other Cold War men left the stage to rapturous applause.

The Cold War Kids’ fourth studio album, “Dear Miss Lonelyhearts” will be released April 2.

Katie Madden can be reached at

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