LIVE: Cold War Kids @ Higher Ground Ballroom, 3/21/11
Every once in a while, we feel the need to venture beyond the Nippertown borders for a musical adventure, so here’s the first in our From the Fringe series of concert reviews:
A giant balloon caterpillar covered the ceiling at the Higher Ground Ballroom in Burlington, Vermont for Monday night’s concert by the Cold War Kids. Ribbed with purple and green stripes, it dangled its orange tentacles over the curious crowd as many stopped to point or snap pictures of the strange scene.
The Cold War Kids kick-started their set with rumbling bongos and a deep blue stage background befitting for their first song “Royal Blue.” The popular “Hang Me Up to Dry” was up next, with the crowd singing along with the chorus: “Now hang me up to dry, you’ve rung me out too, too, too many times…” Lead singer Nathan Willett’s often whimsical voice translated well on stage, sounding strong and clear, and not at all as capricious as it sometimes does on record. And “Skip the Charades” had an enjoyable, waltzy feel to it.
“This is intimate, this is nice. We’ve really got your undivided attention. That’s rare,” Willett quipped before launching into “Audience,” which describes “playing for an audience of one.” The show was quite intimate, but hardly an audience of one – around 470 people showed up to see CWK on a cold and rainy Monday night. With the biggest shows at Higher Ground Ballroom selling out at 750, it’s safe to say that all concerts there are intimate. With its wide open space and domed ceiling, it truly did look like a ballroom, complete with hanging crystal chandeliers. The casual crowd consisted mostly of bearded, flannel-clad college students, nodding to the beat and sipping on locally brewed beers.
The encore contained the never performed before “Bashful,” which Willett explained was one of his favorite songs. And the final song of the night was the big indie-alt radio hit “We Used to Vacation,” which sent the calm crowd into wild applause.
Local Burlington band the Rosesmiths replaced original opener Baths at last minute’s notice, and lead singer Maryse Smith lent her pleasing, countrified chops over the folk-rock laden songs. Their mellow, laid-back tunes could be compared to popular indie band Company Of Thieves. “Ok, It’s Alright” picked up the tempo and emphasized the drums and background vocals, with the house responding warmly, confirming that the Rosemiths were a perfect choice to compliment the night.
Review and photographs by Lindsay Malachowski