Cold War Kids
The Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, CA.
Thursday, September 19th 2013
I think it is best practice to ignore the subjective aesthetic qualities of a particular artist in favor of paying attention to the people that like that artist. After all, what does criticism have left to tell us about Artists? They practice their art, some people like that Art, some people don't, and many don't care. The Art has characteristics which the critic may or may not appreciate/like/dislike. It's like the photographs taken at indie rock concerts: 100% of the performing artist, and they always look the same. Pointless.
Cold War Kids are interesting because they are a band that has traversed the terrain between the Indie and Major Label music world, and it is their position in the overlapping portion of a venn diagram where the constituent circles are labelled 'major label' and 'indie ' which draws attention. First, you have the indie roots of Cold War Kids, where they reside in a circle of associated Artists that are also Major/Indie level indie rock bands with broad popular appeal: Foremost, The National, with close to one hundred million Last Fm plays, #61 on Last FM's over all chart, and BNM awards from Pitchfork.
Next, you have Local Natives, with only 15 million Last FM plays, but also BNM's from Pitchfork and a sense of upwards momentum. Then you have Cold War Kids themselves, 20 million Last FM plays but no critical adulation- a radio hit thought- which neither The National OR Local Natives possess. And then finally bringing up the rear you have Delta Spirit, limping along with 3.5 million Last FM plays and little critical attention. So in this group, The National are Major label, Cold War Kids and Local Natives are Major Indie and Delta Spirit is Indie.
Both Cold War Kids and Local Natives are on the top 500 Last FM chart, Local Natives are #288 and Cold War Kids are #402. I think probably the simpliest and most direct observation to make about Cold War Kids is that they need another radio hit, and until they get that radio hit momentum will be hard to come by. Certainly the 3.9 for the last full LP after a pair of 5's from Pitchfork is far from the trajectory of competitors Local Natives (8.4/BNM, 8.1) let alone The National. I'm sure defenders/fans/employees of Cold War Kids would argue that Pitchfork "doesn't matter" for a band like Cold War Kids but it certainly seems to matter for The National and Local Natives, so it is hard to argue that it is somehow irrelevant for Cold War Kids.
The Wiltern (listed capacity 1850) is a good measure of their popularity- and I am interested to see the Audience. The show is tomorrow night.