Call me a commie, but I like the Cold War Kids
I was innocently minding my own business, thinking of the three things guys at Wash. U. generally think about (Beer, Boobs, Internships), when I found out that the Cold War Kids would be coming for spring W.I.L.D. this year. For the past three years, the Kids have been one of my favorite bands, but never did I expect that they would be headlining my school’s semesterly concert. So of course I was excited, but my informal polling of other students’ opinions yielded responses such as “Well, another crappy band I’ve never heard of” or “This year’s W.I.L.D. is going to suck, bro.” On Monday, an article in Student Life reported lukewarm excitement at best among students.
Allow me a moment to explain to you why you should be immensely excited about seeing the Cold War Kids. Their songwriting is fresh, and catchy. It’s delightfully weird and idiosyncratic. They write lyrics about anything, from the life and times of a down-on-his luck dad in “We Used to Vacation,” to a woman with a reluctant, yet inevitable taste for destructive relationships in “Every Man I Fall For.” But no matter the subject, every song reveals some conflict of the human heart—could we ask for any more from Art? Finally, and most importantly, they play every show with a reckless abandon and an uncommon intensity. I get butterflies when I imagine lead singer Nathan Willett’s piercingly high voice exploding in the Brookings atmosphere and raining down over the drunk masses. Hearing a band perform live is like seeing Miss America without make-up; stripped away from the safety of the studio (or mascara), you can evaluate what their true sound is. I promise you, these guys rock—you all should be squirming with excitement as you drink your burnt coffee in Whispers and read this.
Some will say you must possess a certain kind of musical taste in order to enjoy the Cold War Kids. After all, it is indie rock music—sometimes dissonant, sometimes screeching, sometimes just…weird. Every shred of documentation about the Cold War Kids, from various publications, to interviews, to their Wikipedia article describes it as an “indie rock band.” In itself, “indie” doesn’t have a true meaning; it is a highly adaptable term used to describe the social force supporting the music as much as the music itself. The blanket application of this term is not even unfair or inaccurate—it is irrelevant. I urge all of you conventional music fans not to run from it, but to ignore it. Don’t let the image of a band affect how you hear their music.
Finally, we should be excited to see the Cold War Kids because they do what most rock bands strive to do, and they do it well: offer a fresh approach to the infinitely-replicated musical archetype of the Pop Song. Most songs you ever hear are pop songs in the general sense, in that they are three to five minutes long, have a verse and chorus, and are typically played by rock instruments. If you learn about six guitar chords you can hack your way through an innumerable number of them. In 2010, 60+ years of rock music has seemingly consumed every shred of musical originality. But I promise you that at W.I.L.D. the Cold War Kids will give you something you have never heard before. What more could a music fan want, as a lover of aural art? We are all smart kids who like to experience the world (unless you’re in the business school…I kid), and this opportunity to see sweet live music should spark our interest. I can’t promise you’ll like the band, because artistic opinion is completely subjective. But my challenge to you, reader, is to divest yourself from your preconceived notions of pop music, and on April 30, to keep your ears and minds open. And don’t pass out too early.