Cold War Kids Burst with New Energy at CMJ Music Marathon

Live shows are a true measuring stick. The stage tends to expose a band’s weaknesses and strengths. Some may try to distract from musical downfalls with elaborate lighting, complex synthesizing, and gimmicky costumes. But others thrive in the spotlight… feeding off energy from the crowd and turning an hour long set into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Enter Cold War Kids, a decade old group of Southern California indie rockers that has undergone intense transformations over the last few years. Founding members Nathan Willet (vocals) and Matt Maust (bass) are now joined by two Modest Mouse transplants, Dann Gallucci (guitar) and Joe Plummer (drums). One might think such a drastic lineup change could affect chemistry and sound… exactly the type of weaknesses a stage can reveal.

On Wednesday night at Rough Trade in Brooklyn performing for a sold out CMJ audience, Cold War Kids put any doubts to rest. The group exploded on stage with an energy that smacked you in the face right off the bat, opening with “All This Could Be Yours,” the first single from their fifth studio album released this week.

Guitarist Dann Gallucci of Cold War Kids performs at Rough Trade in Brooklyn during the CMJ Music Marathon on Oct. 22, 2014. Photo credit Adam Daley.

Guitarist Dann Gallucci of Cold War Kids performs at Rough Trade in Brooklyn during the CMJ Music Marathon on Oct. 22, 2014. Photo credit Adam Daley.

“It’s come back to what we did at the beginning… really high energy and trying to mold it into something that’s the strongest music we can make,” Nathan told Rock On Philly. “We want to have a sound that people recognize right away.”

For the entire set Nathan, Matt, and Dann were in constant motion weaving across the stage, raising their guitars in the air and stopping for handshakes with the front row. Matt was particularly animated, throwing in drop kicks and nearly running over Nathan and Dann on a few occasions. Simply put, Cold War Kids just looked like they were having fun. And it was contagious.

Cold War Kids performs at Rough Trade in Brooklyn during the CMJ Music Marathon on Oct. 22, 2014. Photo credit Adam Daley.

Cold War Kids performs at Rough Trade in Brooklyn during the CMJ Music Marathon on Oct. 22, 2014. Photo credit Adam Daley.

That energy translates to the new album, “Hold My Home,” out October 21st via Downtown Records.

“I think it’s an evolution for us. It’s so fresh still that it’s hard to describe how it’s evolved,” said Nathan. “One of my favorite songs is called, ‘Hear My Baby Call.’ It’s the last song on the record. It almost seems like a Bill Withers song… very classic with chord changes and melodies like a 70s R&B song.”

It’s only fitting Cold War Kids would play at CMJ this year, a festival typically geared towards new, up-and-coming artists. In a way the latest album is a reboot with fresh faces, and the CMJ festival provides a launching pad to share their new music.

“Bands aren’t really making money from record sales, so they’re trying to find ways to get their music heard and finding creative ways to do it,” said Nathan. “At CMJ you get a good mix of industry, fans, and everyone kind of blends together. It lets everybody know what the latest is.”

Singer Nathan Willet of Cold War Kids performs at Rough Trade in Brooklyn during the CMJ Music Marathon on Oct. 22, 2014. Photo credit Adam Daley.

Singer Nathan Willet of Cold War Kids performs at Rough Trade in Brooklyn during the CMJ Music Marathon on Oct. 22, 2014. Photo credit Adam Daley.

For more info check out www.coldwarkids.com. You can also catch Cold War Kids live at Union Transfer in Philly on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014.

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