This War's Not Over

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The Spectrum

Flannel, skinny jeans, and dark brim glasses were all in high volume Friday night at Phoenix Concert Hall as one of indie rock's biggest acts took the stage.

Although Cold War Kids played Toronto in March, they made sure to change up their set list to keep things fresh for returning concertgoers.

Cold War Kids played a lot of deep tracks, especially off their sophomore album, Loyalty to Loyalty. While this displeased some members of the crowd, hardcore fans in attendance reveled the chance to hear songs that the band doesn't play very often.

The band opened with "Royal Blue" from its most recent album, Mine Is Yours. The crowd starting dancing along as Matt Maust laid down the bass line, and the lyrics radiated through the concert hall.

Cold War Kids combine blues with contemporary indie rock. The soulful instrumentals added to the band's atmospheric feel, while the upbeat percussion kept tracks danceable. The result is one of the most entertaining live shows since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Every member of Cold War Kids displayed a mastery of not only their instruments, but also how to perform on stage. All of the members had a great stage presence, but lead singer Nathan Willett and guitarist Jonnie Russell stole much of the spotlight.

Willett fluctuated between guitar and piano while singing, while other times he dropped his instruments all together to focus on the vocals. At times he seemed nervous on stage, but his voice portrayed the exact opposite.

Willett has a unique voice, and it propels the band. He crooned to the crowd, and kept them captivated with beautiful stories. By time the band got three songs in, the crowd was telling the stories with Willett, as if they were the ones that created the tales.

Guitarist Jonnie Russell was charismatic on stage. Often he was the only member playing guitar for Cold War Kids but that did not seem to phase him. For every song he sounded crisp and spot on. As he jammed out on the guitar, he was running around stage and getting the audience more into the show.

Occasionally, Russell would demonstrate his musical ability and replace Willett on piano. Not only is Russell an excellent guitar player, he also has the capability to play multiple instruments.

As the night winded down, Cold War Kids performed the song "Saint John." Maust was the only person playing a stringed instrument as Willett focused on vocal duties and Russell moved to the piano.

During the song, Russell brought out a drumstick and an empty bottle. He proceeded to use the bottle and various parts of the piano to add his own percussion into the song.

Chicago natives Young Man opened for Cold War Kids. Colin Caulfield, the face of band, presents a unique sound that is sure to reinvigorate the indie world. The only problem with Young Man's set was the general lack of stage presence.

Young Man, while sounding good, was stagnant and boring on stage. Their long instrumental journeys were interesting to listen to but boring to watch. If the band did more to entertain the crowd, Young Man would become a cornerstone very quickly.

Cold War Kids displayed why they currently hold the spotlight of the indie scene Friday night. Luckily for everyone, the Cold War isn't over.

Email: arts@ubspectrum.com