Cold War Kids delivers a night of nostalgia

Lead singer of the Cold War Kids Nathan Willett plays guitar on stage at the Buckhead Theatre. He is joined by fellow original band member and bassist Matt Maust and other newer members. // Photo by Jenna Guiher Student Publications

To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Cold War Kids rocked Buckhead Theatre. 

Fans flocked to their March 9 show and were greeted by the band’s timeless tunes that have spanned two decades.

Even though the band has shifted and adapted over the years, their unique indie pop/rock sound has remained consistent. Vocalist Nathan Willett and bassist Matt Maust are the only remaining members of the original lineup, and they are joined by guitarists David Quon and Matthew Schwartz as well as
drummer Joe Plummer.

The band has had many breakout songs over their lifespan. Their biggest song on Spotify is the powerful anthem “First” with over 258 million streams. Another noteworthy hit is “Hang Me Up To Dry,” which premiered on their 2007 album “Robbers & Cowards.” The song has recently taken a large upturn in popularity after it was featured on the soundtrack for “Saltburn.” The band released their self-titled album “Cold War Kids” at the end of 2023.

Alternative indie artist Joe P set the stage at Buckhead Theatre. His energy was electrifying, zapping life into the stagnant venue and forging an instant, intimate connection with the crowd. From the moment he stepped on stage and began his first song, he was jumping around and strumming his guitar with
an unfathomable fervor.

Many concert-goers seemed to have exclusively come to see Joe P. A group of girls at the front of the crowd gripped bouquets that they brought for him and screamed every word to his songs. Many more of his fans were interspersed throughout the audience, easily identifiable as they danced wildly to his lyrics.

Joe P played the head-banger  “Fighting in the Car” as well as the newly released “Shadow in the Sun,” and it is already a crowd favorite. 

“Off My Mind” was Joe P’s fiery conclusion. It started off acoustic, but as the tension in the song rose, so did the enthusiasm in the venue. The lights flashed fluorescent colors, and Joe P threw himself across the stage, giving into the passion of his music. The song came to an abrupt end, and the enchanted crowd exploded into cheers at the performance.

After the stellar opening act, Cold War Kids arrived onstage to their awaiting audience. They were greeted with boisterous acclamation and clamor as Willett breathed the opening lines of “You Already Know” into the mic: “Wake up to blinding light / This is how we start the day.”

The group’s performance was dynamic, never standing still for a second, and “Miracle Mile” was the ultimate manifestation of their energy. The pounding piano and Willett’s powerful vocals elevated the song through its resounding chant, “Come up for air, come up for air.” 

After a series of similarly ardent songs, the band left Willett alone onstage to sit by himself at the piano. He took a moment to preface the next song by explaining that he used to work as a substitute teacher in California. It was in one of these classrooms that he wrote the song “We Used to Vacation.” 

He began the song in a manner reminiscent of Billy Joel: just Willett and the piano. As he carried on, his bandmates slowly joined him, and the song built to its dramatic climax. Through the lyrics, he communicates his struggle with everyday monotony, but he decides that he has to carry on for the sake of his wife and kids. Willett’s poignant delivery emphasized the emotional significance of the song to him.

After the moving performance, Willett brought the energy in the venue back up by prompting, “Let’s have some fun, okay?”

The band sang the folk-inspired “Hospital Beds” that added a stomp and holler element to the show. The crowd got increasingly loud, and their enthusiasm
carried into “First.”

At the end of the song, the band left the stage, and the audience was quick to vocalize their dismay that the concert was over. Quickly, calls for an encore prompted the band to come back on and end their set with “Love is Mystical” and “Something Is Not Right With Me.”

Willett gave a heartfelt thank you to the crowd, proclaiming, “Cold War Kids loves you, Atlanta!” before making his final exit.

Cold War Kids delivered a beautiful night of nostalgia and exhilaration for all of their fans: the ones who have stuck by the band for twenty years and the newer ones who have just discovered their music. Each and every person left Buckhead Theatre with a smile on their face, truly invigorated by the power of music.