Cold War Kids gave a cabaret-style performance at the Fox Theater in Oakland last Friday. Despite a packed house, there was an emotional authenticity in the delivery of their music. It must have been the upright piano, and the way lead singer Nathan Willet ardently serenades his songs.

It also helps that Willet has an all star team: guitarist Dann Gallucci, drummer Joe Plummer (who also plays with Modest Mouse), bassist Matt Maust, and Matthew Schwartz on keyboards, guitar and percussion.

All these guys gave an upbeat and dramatic performance that blew away the audience and brought them to dance under the gaze of the theater’s gilded, green-eyed guardian statues that stand beside the stage looking on with affection over their Dionysian disciples.

The Kids’ newest album release, Hold My Home, and tracks from 2013’s Dear Miss Lonelyhearts are heard with more zeal live. When the first low chords of the band’s classic song “Hang Me Up to Dry” began, the air in the venue crackled and the audience sang along. The song was heard as if it was the first listen, yet everyone knew all the words.

The skeleton from the album art Loyalty to Loyalty loomed over the stage and changed color with the atmosphere. Appropriately, the band poignantly expressed their grit during “Mexican Dogs.”

The new song “St. John” has a summer anthem sound in the down beat and the lyrics: All the white boys in their stay-pressed slacks, they’re home for the summer from college / Stayin’ out late, getting rowdy at the bar, they’re looking for trouble uptown. An ode to hedonism but also an appeal for clemency.

Their music is just as relatable to their fan base now as when they debuted in 2006. Their live performance supplies the electric shock into the Frankenstein body that is Cold War Kids.

-Bridget Stagnitto,


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