Introducing Cold War Kids

| Music Editor

Who are they?
Cold War Kids is an indie rock outfit out of Fullerton, California consisting of Nathan Willett (lead vocals, piano, guitar), Jonnie Russell (guitar, vocals, percussion), Matt Maust (bass guitar) and Matt Aveiro (drums). The band formed in 2004 and burst onto the scene in October 2006 with their album “Robbers & Cowards.”

Why should I be impressed?

Well, the band’s first full-length release, “Robbers and Cowards,” was universally adored, garnering 4-star reviews from the likes of “Rolling Stone” and “Allmusic.” 2008’s “Loyalty to Loyalty” (named for the work of obscure philosopher Josiah Royce) climbed to #21 on Billboard’s chart. The band has also released a multitude of EPs, including their most recent, “Behave Yourself,” which dropped in January. CWK is a prolific road act, playing, among others, three Lollapaloozas, Bonnaroo and Coachella.

What do they sound like?
The Kids have a stripped-down, “indie” sound twinged with a soulful edge. They play straightforward, occasionally piano-driven rock ‘n’ roll. Willett howls clever lyrics over incisive guitar work, jumbled piano and get-outta-our-way drums and bass. Russell isn’t one to rip out a 64th-note shred, but his understated solo work is a fine complement to the band’s bluesy feel. The CWK have a great handle on shaping songs with swelling melodies, digging in deep only to rebound with highly emotive punches. CWK sounds a bit like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Delta Spirit.

Haven’t I heard them before?
The band’s songs have appeared on “The Hills,” “Gossip Girl” and “Entourage” to name a few shows. You can play “Hang Me Up to Dry” on the game Band Hero, and they have toured with acts such as Muse, Death Cab for Cutie and Tokyo Police Club.

What can we expect at W.I.L.D.?

Make no mistake, CWK is a touring band. Critic Chris Catania wrote of a show earlier this year, “The show felt like we were watching a musical exorcism…Playing as if possessed, they surged through a set filled with swelling ballads of righteous protest and freedom anthems for the people.” At W.I.L.D. we can expect a more somber headliner unafraid to slow down the tempo and dial up the poignancy. Willett has joked that it’s hard for the band to play day shows because the crowd is too happy. But this is no emo act, CWK plays nuanced music with smart lyrics. And, of course, they’re celebrated pros at playing live.

What tracks should I download before the show?

“Hang Me Up to Dry” off of “Robbers and Cowards” is arguably the group’s most famous single, a slow burner with a hip-swinging bass line about about “splashing around in the mud and the mire” featuring Willett’s signature emotive vocals. “Mexican Dogs” off “Loyalty to Loyalty” has a jaunty, syncopated guitar line that is constantly morphing and refuses to be pinned down. If you want to stay current, “Audience” is a single off the band’s most recent EP.

W.I.L.D. Schedule

Main Stage

4:15 – 5:00
Second Sage Battle of the Bands winner
5:20 – 5:45
DJ Keeno
5:45 – 6:45
Shwayze
6:45 – 7:30
Jeremy Klein a.k.a Digital Logic (winner of the DJ Battle
7:30 – 9:00
Cold War Kids

Second Stage

Noon – 1
Battle of the Bands
featuring Clive, The Noam Chomskys and Sobriquet
1:30
Vermonster eating contest