Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cold War Kids - September 15th - Gilley's Dallas

The Cold War Kids kind of crept up on me. They spoke to me in place deep inside my soul when I wasn’t really paying attention. A couple of years ago, I was listening to one of those internet radio stations where you put in your favorite band and they play songs from your band plus suggestions of other bands you may enjoy. If you don’t know my favorite bands by now, your assignment is to go read my back blogs and get up to speed. That day when I first heard “We Used to Vacation” I was only listening on a subconscious level, my mind was fully concentrating on whatever work I was into at the time. The song was probably half the way through before it came to the surface of my thoughts. Wow! Those powerful vocals and lyrics wrapped up in the subdued style of the song hooked me right away. I downloaded the album, Robbers and Cowards, but It was one of those albums that didn’t speak to me on a conscious level at first. I found myself skipping through the tracks when I tried to listen to it. The strange thing is that when these same songs came up in the mix on my iPod, when I wasn’t really paying attention, they almost always stopped me in my tracks. They were the kind of songs that instantly whisked me away from my faraway thoughts, bringing me right back to reality. It turned into one of those albums that the more you listen to it, the more captivated you become.

Then, earlier this year the Cold War Kids released a new album called "Yours is Mine". I bought the vinyl when it came out and downloaded the album. The Cold War Kids even played a show and recorded a live album at my favorite music venue (that I have never been to), the Third Man Records live venue in Nashville. Jack apparently likes the CWK too. So, when I happened across an internet posting that they were coming to Dallas to tour for the new album, I called up my favorite concert buddy and we bought tickets.

Doors at 8. Opening band at 9. CWK’s at 10:15. On a school night mind you, but I am tough, I can do it. It was refreshingly cool this evening. The brutal summer temperatures are becoming a thing of the past as the cool autumn nights start to creep in. The show was at small venue called Gilley’s, but it was ticketed as Southside Music Hall, which is in the same building as the bigger Palladium Ballroom. Confused yet? Yeah, so were we. We were relieved after seeing the giant line of people waiting to get into the Palladium to see Bright Eyes, that the entrance to Gilley’s was “around back.” A short walk down a scary dark alleyway and we were in.

They checked my ticket, swiped my ID at the door and gave me a wrist band that was printed with my name and the words “unspecified venue”. Apparently, I was not the only one confused about the venue name. They don’t even know themselves. At least I had my name printed on my wrist in case I forgot who I was. It was also printed with a big 21. It's been quite a few years since I have been Lea, 21.


We arrived just in time. The opening band had just started playing their first note. We walked in the door and took our places in the front, stage right. I think I am going to stop making comments about opening bands now because I am always seem to say things like, "no disrespect intended to the opening band, but...." They are almost never good. That's all I have to say about the opening band.

The Cold War kids take the stage and I immediately realized that I didn't know what to expect, as far as band image. I was slightly surprised that this man, that I only knew by his soulful voice from the albums, was wearing a short sleeve oxford button down shirt tucked into his khaki pants. He looked more like an IT guy from my office than someone about to rock the night. Then he admitted he was drinking white wine. Preppy or not, by the end of the night, Nathan Willet brought the emotional intensity of a bonafide rock star.

The show was amazing. The Cold War Kids have mastered the art of dynamics in music. They begin with a mellow sing-songy low key style until the song inevitably breaks into a passionate wailing chorus, which begs for audience participation. The songs are catchy, the chorus' are shoutable. Low intensity, high intensity, low intensity, repeat. This band knows how to capture the energy of the crowd. They delivered.

The song writing is seriously killer. Who else writes songs about being on death row (Saint John), kids of divorce (Sensitive Kid), being an alcoholic father (We Used to Vacation), stealing from the church offering (Passing the Hat) and being in the hospital with no chance of recovery (Hospital Beds) almost all in first person perspective? The Cold War Kids do. I leave each of these songs believing Nathan Willett has experienced each of these things personally, he is so convincing in his passionate delivery.

I got home at 1am, stole a few hours of sleep before the morning alarm reminded me of my work day responsibilities. I was tired in the morning and the next day at work, but it was totally worth it.

The next night our friends asked us if we wanted to go out to a piano bar downtown. What do I look like? I'm in my 20's? I can't go out two nights in a row!

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