I never want to see you again
Several years ago, I instated a personal rule: If a band puts on a show that absolutely blows my mind, I make a point to never see them perform live again.
I realize this sounds strange, but hear me out: It’s not that I don’t think bands are capable of putting on fabulous show after fabulous show, it’s just that I believe a truly amazing concertgoing experience isn’t solely dependent on a band’s performance. Of course, that’s obviously a big part of it, but there is more to the equation.
A mind-blowing show is the sum of its parts. It’s the venue and the crowd and the energy in the air. Once I’ve had an amazing showgoing experience, I find that it’s almost impossible to beat or even come close to what I’ve stored away in my head. So I choose to leave that fond memory unmarred by any future, and potentially less impressive, shows.
Then again, if a show sucks, it isn’t likely that I’ll be rushing out to see that band play again, either.
That said, there’s also a third category: The shows that are good but don’t manage to leave me with a smile from ear to ear. The Cold War Kids’ show at Harlow’s last Thursday fell into this category. The Long Beach-based indie-blues quartet didn’t disappoint, per se, but the wow factor just wasn’t there. At least not for me.
The Cold War Kids’ set focused mostly on tracks from their forthcoming album Mine Is Yours, which is due out January 25 on Downtown Records. While new songs like “Finally Begin,” “Royal Blue” and “Skip the Charades” seemed to liven the sold-out crowd, it was the older tracks that really roused the audience.
Judging from the audience reaction, the highlights of the show were the tracks from their 2006 debut album Robbers & Cowards. During “Hang Me Up to Dry,” more than a dozen video cameras and cell phones came out to record the moment. It seemed as if the entire crowd was singing along—either inspiring or provoking vocalist Nathan Willett to belt out the lyrics with greater fervor than the other songs.
Other crowd-pleasing tracks included “Hospital Beds” and “We Used to Vacation”—both from Robbers & Cowards—and “Audience” and “Santa Ana Winds”—both found on the Behave Yourself EP, which was released in January of this year.
Overall, I’d say the Cold War Kids put on a solid performance, and I’m sure many concertgoers had an amazing experience. But for me the equation just didn’t add up. I can’t attribute my “meh” feelings to the musicianship (which was strong) or the venue (which was quality), so I’ll assume the variable at play was me. That said, if the Cold War Kids come to town again, I’d to consider revisiting them. Maybe by then I’ll be better at math.