Pandora Summer Party ft. Cold War Kids at Concord Music Hall

The eve of Lollapalooza is usually a “calm before the storm” situation in Chicago. Soft, easy and slow-build type of kickoff to the long and tumultuous three day festival. Not so much this year. A night that started off as the Pandora Summer Party filled with give-aways and contest winners ended with concert goers cheering/shouting/dancing/begging-for-more as the Cold War Kids played their last note followed by hugging and high-fiving the audience members.

The Cold War Kids hit the stage at Concord Music Hall firing on all cylinders from the first guitar rip. The indie rockers from Southern California are veterans at this bit. Working the energetic and animated crowd, swinging microphones by their cords and tearing through each song with reckless temerity. The lyric, “I was supposed to do great things…” goes ringing through my head. It’s a statement we can all relate to, and even from a successful band like CWK the shout seems authentic.

Half way through the show, Willett’s yelping vocals were barely needed as the crowd belted out every lyric. Come to think about it, they have a lot more hits that I remember? I mean, I listen to CWK casually… but a few songs in I was like, “Oh WAIT, I know this track! Holy $#!T, they sing this song???”

You have to appreciate a group that knows their real estate too. The band works the entire stage, maximizing every square foot they are afforded. They own every corner of the space like Monopoly kingpins–even when they’re not perfectly positioned in relation to each other. You have to appreciate the imperfections of a live performance, and even when they fucked up they made it look and sound good.

This is the third time I’ve seen them, and I can tell you they know just how long to play too. Their sweet spot is 75 minutes because it gives them just enough time to pepper in some slower stuff without losing any momentum. Before you know it, the piano key crashes and vocal wails are replaced with a monitor buzz as they take a bow and exit stage right. This collective has soul. Not so much in the Stevie Wonder sense, but with a darker sentiment of story telling. A band that can rock. Really cook with gas, but still have grace.

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