Last Night: Cold War Kids At Warehouse Live

Cold War Kids Warehouse Live March 31, 2011

"HOUSTON: A BRACKET TOWN," read signs posted around downtown last night. HPD had begun arranging road-closures and tents were already stocked with T-shirts and Final Four swag, as the city prepared itself for this weekend's inevitable mass of tourists and March Madness basketball fans.

Cool that hoopla may be, but we (as usual) were just trying to make our way to a rock show. One detour later, we arrived at Warehouse Live for Long Beach, Calif.'s Cold War Kids - without a basketball jersey in sight.

After fellow Californian opener Baths ended his electronic set (watch this guy; we dare guess he'll be "big"), CWK took the stage to a loud crowd (and distinct scent of freshly-lit joints).

"Good evening, Houston-town," announced frontman Nathan Willett, as the band began opener "Royal Blue," a track from their third and most recent release, 2011's Mine Is Yours.

Warehouse Live was packed, but the sight still didn't compare to the first time we'd seen CWK, at 2007's Lollapalooza, when fans literally overflowed from neighboring stages to witness the band's set; they'd clearly been booked on a stage too small for their unexpectedly fast-growing hype.

Now with a bit more stage-area to utilize, Willett juggled both guitar and piano duties, often abandoning his guitar and mic-stand to roam the stage, hand flailing through the air as he sang. As expected, Mine Is Yours material was most liberally featured, including "Finally Begin" and "Skip the Charades;" but as the first few notes of "Hang Me Up To Dry," from 2006's Robbers & Cowards, were played, the crowd conveyed their endorsement of the oldie with an excited roar of approval.

As predictable and irritating it may be to witness the biggest crowd response to a band's most popular single, such wasn't the case with "Hang Me Up To Dry;" instead, it served as a reminder of how strong CWK's debut was - the song is a perfect single, with its catchy-as-hell chorus, pounding bass riff and tousled piano jangle.

Unsurpsingly, subsequent songs couldn't hold up against their catchier predecessor. In particular, Mine Is Yours track "Louder Than Ever" seemed uncharacteristically CWK - pop, even - as if designed for an arena-rock singalong.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Neph Basedow
Contact: Neph Basedow