Thursday, June 14, 2007

Live: Cold War Kids and the Little Ones

A couple of nights ago, two of LA’s best bands performed a concert at the Echoplex benefiting 826LA and Water Wells for Africa. The Little Ones and Cold War Kids have gained a tremendous amount of traction in the last year, the latter especially is on the cusp of mainstream success. I first saw Cold War Kids when they were touring with another buzz-heavy band, Tapes n Tapes, and they just about burst the seams of the tiny stage at the Echo with their flailing, energetic performance. The playing was a little messy at times, but they had the spirit. A few months ago they were the headliner at the El Rey, and it struck me how much the Kids seemed to be trying hard to be a hard-playing, messy, blues band. Perhaps thrown in the larger stage of the El Rey, the band was thrown out of context and had to work harder at achieving the raucous vibe they exuded months before.

Their show at the Echoplex was good. The Kids were as confident as I’ve ever seen them and the songs popped. Some might accuse Cold War Kids of being derivative, but I think they’re just very good songwriters. A song like “Hang Me Up to Dry” may not be entirely original, but the band is savvy enough to know what to put in to make you think it’s the freshest thing out there. The band’s songs are like comfort food—easy to like and often a welcome flavor to the palate.

It’s also obvious that the band is at a tipping point, and their tour with the White Stripes may just be what tips them over to a level of success equal to the Killers a few years ago. Based on the crowd at the Echoplex, the Kids are attracting a following of frat boys, Westside players and the women who love them. Liz and Erica had to duck out from the crowd because they were getting slapped by a party dressed girl and her hair extensions as she danced in unequal rhythm to the song being played. I have a feeling that this may be one of the last shows the Kids can be called an indie band. Yes, I sound like an elitist prig, but I’d actually be happy to see the Cold War Kids hit it big. Their songs would be a welcome antidote to all the Incubus, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Linkin Park being played on KROQ.

The Little Ones are probably destined for some success, but at the moment they are only where the Kids were about a year ago—a buzz band. Their set the other night wasn’t the best I’ve experienced because it was marred by excessive chatter around me and the bad sightlines of the Echoplex. My friends, though, were impressed, but I only wished they could have seen the other, more exuberant performances I’ve seen them deliver. Their encore of “Cecilia” on the last night of their Spaceland residency last year still ranks as one of the most joyous concert experiences I’ve had.

On another note, the Echoplex gets way too hot. I guess it adds to the ambience, but I’d rather not be so hot and sticky when I’m clothed.

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