Cold War Kids at Minglewood Hall 

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There are a handful of bands whose live sets I catch every time I get the chance, and Cold War Kids is one of them. I was a pretty passive fan of their debut, Robbers and Cowards, until I saw them play at the Austin City Limits Festival in 2006. What came off as loosely constructed songs on the album came alive onstage, and the band's members strike a welcome balance between the stone-faced and the flamboyant that make up much of the indie sphere. Their energy and devotion to the songs are infectious, permeating my revisit to the album post-concert. Since then, I've seen the Kids play in tiny rooms and on large stages, and they manage one just as well as the next. Taking their cues mainly from their instruments, they create a stripped-down sound that combines wily blues-rock with murmured chanting, fronting visceral lyrics that ramble through scenes unfolding in prison, in hospitals, and around the edges of AA meetings. The feeling behind them comes down to this: A driving piano dominates despite booming bass and drums, and a wailing voice works to give all three a run for their money. Cold War Kids play Minglewood Hall with the Cave Singers on Saturday, December 11th, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door. — Halley Johnson

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