ndie rock royalty graced Chicago last Saturday and proved they are still going strong even after a decade. The Riviera Theatre was packed and steaming hot for the Cold War Kids’ 2020 Winter Tour. Fans of all ages crowded up at the front giving security a hard time keeping the GA pit contained. Cold War Kids, a band hailing from Long Beach, California with six previous albums under their belt, brought their tour to Chicago in support of their seventh studio album, New Age Norms, that came out in 2019.

The night began with an opening set from New York band Overcoats. The electronic-pop duo, complete with a full band behind them, incorporated songs from their 2017 debut album YOUNG as well as their newest single “The Fool” into the entirely too brief set. They even did a cover of Hozier’s “Cherry Wine” that was absolutely beautiful. The two singers fed off of each other's energy perfectly and their harmonies and synchronized dance moves definitely won over some new fans, myself included. They’ll be back in Chicago in April.

As soon as Overcoats finished, the crowd seemed to double in size as everyone prepared for Cold War Kids. As the lights dimmed, the cheers were deafening as lead singer Nathan Willett and the rest of the band ran out on stage and immediately began playing “Love Is Mystical,” the first song off of their 2017 release LA Divine. As the opening piano notes of their big single “Miracle Mile” began playing, Willett quickly thanked the audience for being there before sailing back off into the soaring vocals and thumping bass line. For “Complainer,” the first song they played off the newest album, he urged the audience to sing along with the chorus even if they didn’t know the rest of the song. A chorus of “don’t sit around and complain about it” erupted from the audience when the time came and the happiness that radiated from the band in that moment was almost palpable. 

Cold War Kids played a healthy amount of songs from their first album, including the first track “We Used to Vacation” and “Hospital Beds” (a song that Florence and the Machine has covered in the past). These tracks received plenty of audience engagement hinting that there were plenty of long time fans present. Cold War Kids maintained high energy levels throughout the night, even during slower songs. Bass player Matt Maust was all over the stage all night. He would constantly go up to the edge of the stage, teasing the audience members and then run back to the drum kit just to start the cycle back up again. He was constantly moving and playing off the other members which helped with the bands already large energy. Cold War Kids is a staple band in any indie music fans repertoire. Their show at the Riviera proved that they are very much still present and not ready to stop anytime soon. 

Photos by
Erin Dickson