Show Review: Cold War Kids Keeps Spirits High, Traversing 20 Years of Music at HOB

Photography by Campbell Parish

By Avieana Rivera, Staff Writer

Artist: Cold War Kids

Venue: House of Blues

When: Thursday, February 28th


A crowd of all ages filled the House of Blues on Wednesday night for Cold War Kids’ 20 Years Tour. The room was packed from barricade to bar, everyone anxiously waiting to rock out with Nathan Willett. Joined by Bandmates Matt Maust, David Quon, Matthew Schwartz, and Joe Plummer, these rock stars came all the way from Long Beach, California to bring down the House of Blues here in Boston for one night, and one night only. 



Joe P came onto the stage in a flash. Before the lights came on, he leaned into the microphone and whispered, “Ready?” The crowd surely was not prepared for what this band had in store. In an instant, the lights came on and the band began to rock out. The group of musicians consisted of Joe P, drummer Santo Rizzolo and bassist Tony Yebra. There was not a single person in the room who wasn’t dancing as they took the stage. Joe and Tony’s skilful guitar riffs mixed with powerful drums made for a sound that took over the room. They seamlessly glided through the setlist, fading one song into the next. The brief pauses in between songs were filled with a screaming crowd, begging for more.

Joe P brought true headbangers, with the heart of their songs lying in the mesmerizing beat of the drums. Santo’s dynamic performance mixed with the high energy of the rest of the band brought a contagious spirit to the House of Blues, and every person in the audience definitely caught a case of it. Joe P danced around the stage for about 40 minutes, playing a new song called “Shadow in the Sun” that was released this Friday. Towards the end of his set, Fans were delighted by the lyric change in his song “Off My Mind,” where he sang “You heard that Boston has the cure.” Joe P’s performance ended with a bang. Each of the band members riffed on their instruments until they physically couldn’t anymore. Joe P took off his guitar and collapsed on the stage, taking in the roars of applause until the lights went out. 



After that impressive opener, fans were bursting at the seams with anticipation for Cold War Kids to grace the stage. The stage was adorned with the same skeleton picture that serves as an album cover for their 2008 record Loyalty to Loyalty. When the band finally did come on stage, they did not disappoint. Rainbows of light cascaded over the stage as they jumped into “You Already Know,” a song from their 2020 album New Age Norms 2. Willett’s Vocals were impressively powerful, and shined above the intensity of the music. They wasted no time between songs, but with 20 years of music to get through in one night, I can't say I blame them. The next song took it back a decade, with their 2013 hit “Miracle Mile.” By their third song, “So Tied Up,” the show quickly turned into the biggest dance party I have ever been to. Fans were jumping, dancing, head banging and so much more. There was a group of people behind me up on the balcony who weren't even watching the band perform, and were solely concerned with the sound. They turned the balcony into their own stage and danced the whole night away. The vibes were incredible, and Nathan Willett agreed. He went on to add that the band has “played some really fun shows in this room,” and teased bandmate Matthew Maust for his short lived time at Berklee College of Music here in Boston, but maintained that it was for the best. From then on it was clear: Cold War Kids is a band that knows how to have a good time. 



The group played songs from albums new and old, including “Run Away With Me,” “Heaven In Your Hands,” “Mexican Dogs” and “Restless.” Every song seemed to be a crowd favorite, with excitement and high energy all-around.

Cold War Kids was celebrating its 20th anniversary, and for a band as old as I am, they have not lost their sound. The band has so much natural chemistry, and all of their songs sounded authentic to the musicians themselves. Through two decades, this band has managed to stay true to their rock and roll roots, something that I think is commendable in a world of rising pop stars. Despite that, the band was still incredibly versatile. The band members were all constantly picking up new instruments, and just somehow kept getting better and better. 

Towards the end of the show, Willett took a moment to reflect on the wild ride that has been Cold War Kids, thanking the audience for their support, whether they’ve been around for 20 years or two. The band was very connected to the crowd, constantly reaching out towards them and pointing at audience members during their performance. At the start of “Heaven In Your Hands,” a song that was recently released at the start of their tour, Willett even took a moment to remind fans to keep going, and that there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. Ironically, the last song of the evening was their 2014 hit “First.” 

Cold War Kids brought with them a walk down memory lane for lots of audience members. But whether this was your very first show, or you’ve seen them on every tour since they debuted in 2004, Cold War Kids is happy to have you and ready to show you a great time, as well as some even better music.

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