BY AMY Z. QUINN You will not find a more potent, unadulterated rock moment than standing in a crowded church basement while a sweaty band of angst-y young manboys, most just a peach-fuzz mustache away from high school geekdom, makes you a little more deaf — and somehow you don’t mind. Such moments are the thermostat of the state of rock music — and judging by last night, somebody’s been paying the heating bill.
Openers Tokyo Police Club (pictured, above), a Canadian four-piece and blogrock buzz band, were just about perfect: Loud, pissed-off, clad in matching Adidas sneakers that looked to be not much larger than those worn by my kindergartner and spewing spastic, bass-driven ADHD rock. Sometimes hormones are a beauty to behold.
As for Cold War Kids, make no mistake: This is a proper rock n’ roll band. Versatile frontman Nathan Willett has a phenomenal rock voice, a gorgeous, scowling stage presence, and is a capable pianist and guitar player. In a few years they may even be a GREAT band. The California-based quintet were the darlings of last year’s South By Southwest Music Conference, and in the time since, the hype has done nothing but escalate: Their record was on the receiving end of a typically overwritten negative Pitchfork review; next week they’ll headline three sold-out shows at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. Last night’s show was their first appearance in Philly since playing a free WXPN show back in December, and there was there was talk that $10 pairs of tickets were going for $150 on the Internets.
Willett, who is clearly working through some Daddy/God issues on Robbers & Cowards, strikes me as Brandon Flowers, minus the cheesey showboating, and blessed with a far, far better voice. There are moments when listening to their songs — rife with crushing letdowns, kids who act up and get slapped down, and, perhaps the font of all this misery, alcoholic parental dysfunction — that it feels a bit like peeking through the keyhole of a family therapy session. It will be interesting to see where his songwriting goes after he finishes working through it all. Grade: A
[Photo by JONATHAN VALANIA]