Young The Giant, Cold War Kids, Joywave 9/13/17

I photographed and reviewed this show at The Pop Break, so here it is recreated below.

Pop Break Live: Young the Giant, Cold War Kids & Joywave at Central Park Summer Stage, New York City

There’s nothing like a triple-header at the Central Park SummerStage to close out the summer. On September 13th, Young The Giant played one of the last shows of the season, still supporting their 2016 record Home of the Strange, with fellow Southern Californians Cold War Kids and Rochester, New York-natives Joywave. This was the first official NYC stop for Cold War Kids and Joywave, each playing material from their newest albums LA Divine and Content, respectively.

Joywave opened the event in the early afternoon with a concise but energetic set led by singer Daniel Armbruster and his usual wry humor. Playing tracks off both the band’s smashing debut How Do You Feel Now? and their most recent effort Content, Joywave gave the crowd a reason to dance before the sun went down. Their most recent single “It’s A Trip!” fit right alongside their hit from two years ago, “Tongues.”


It’s a Trip!
Little Lies You’re Told
Somebody New

Cold War Kids, in usual form, brought soul and grace to the stage, opening with their classic, “All This Could Be Yours.” Singer Nathan Willett and bassist Matt Maust were in top form, playing Cold War Kids’ standards while still remaining fresh and on their toes. The lead single off their sixth studio album LA Divine, “Love Is Mystical” was a notable standout; the crowd was eager to join in and clap along with Willett’s tambourine. The highlight of the night, however, had to be the band’s sultry, jazzy, and sexy rendition of Rihanna’s “Love On The Brain” – an unusual cover that, by the end, sounded as if it was originally written for and by Cold War Kids.


All This Could Be Yours
Miracle Mile
Hang Me Up to Dry
Can We Hang On?
Love Is Mystical
Mexican Dogs
Love on the Brain (Rihanna cover)
Lost That Easy
So Tied Up
Cameras Always On
Hospital Beds
Something Is Not Right With Me

Young The Giant, the night’s headliners, wasted little time before immersing the SummerStage crowd into their album’s lead single and hot-topic conceit: America. Or, as the band brands it: “Amerika.” Singer Sameer Gadhia took the darkened stage backed by a track of famous American songs in pop culture, including Ray Charles’ “America The Beautiful,” Miley Cyrus’ “Party In The USA,” and Springsteen’s “Born In The USA.” With each “patriotic” song layering into each other and the bright, angular stage littered with flowers and modern geometric shapes, Young The Giant embodied true headliners. Their performance wasn’t keen on being nostalgic, but relevant and timely in the best way possible. Classic singalongs “Something To Believe In,” “Cough Syrup,” and the closer “My Body” left everyone in Central Park that night feeling like they had just witnessed something truly special. I can’t wait to see where Young The Giant goes next, because it’s only up from here.


Something to Believe In
I Got
Titus Was Born
Mr. Know‐It‐All
It’s About Time
Cough Syrup
Firelight (acoustic)
Nothing’s Over
Mind Over Matter
Home of the Strange

Jungle Youth
My Body

Cold War Kids 4/10/17

(a) setlist

    1. Love Is Mystical
    2. Miracle Mile
    3. Can We Hang On?
    4. So Tied Up
    5. First
    6. Love On The Brain (Rihanna cover)
    7. Something Is Not Right With Me

(b) highlights

  • how great is this band, like really
  • the new songs from LA Divine are so solid, I cannot wait to hear the rest of the album, it’s unreal
  • I’m not really a fan of Rihanna, but dayummm, Nathan brought some real soul to that cover and performance of “Love On The Brain”
  • “Can We Hang On?” is honestly one of my favorite Cold War Kids tracks ever and it only just came out a month or do ago; how incredible that a band I’ve loved for over a decade can still create great work
  • the sound in the venue was fantastic; Rough Trade is solid and better than most other Brooklyn venues, in my opinion

(c) lowlights

  • wish the set could’ve been longer

(d) overall thoughts

I’ve talked about this extensively before, but Cold War Kids are probably one of the most underrated bands out there. This show was a free in-store performance at Rough Trade to promote their new album LA Divine, but it mostly worked as a sweet appetizer for a meal later on that you know is gonna be good.

I love going to one of the first shows of any band’s new album and tour, but I feel like it sets the tone for what that album and tour season will look like. The fact that so many of LA Divine‘s songs immediately pulled me in, and the crowd responded so positively to every track – I really feel like this album will be big for the band. And I feel so lucky to have witnessed that first hand, and get to watch it play-out in real time.

Although the show itself was short, the band played as if it was a full-bodied set. They were high-energy and engaged, as usual, playing into how the stage was small, the venue was small, and the crowd was packed tight. The smallness aided in the intimacy in the best way. Nathan Willett brought his soulful lyrics to life and Matt Maust killed it on his funky bass as usual. I was disappointed when the band announced sometime last year that guitarist Dann Gallucci would be leaving only to be replaced by David Quon, but I was pleasantly surprised by his performance. His guitar work on “So Tied Up” was a stand out for sure and I look forward to seeing him at future shows.

Ultimately, the best part about the show was remembering how much joy and happiness Cold War Kids’ music brings to me. The crowd was having a great time – responding positively to new and old songs alike – and everything felt so happy and joyful. I think it speaks volumes to reflect on how I used to hate “Something Is Not Right With Me” when it first came out in 2008 on Loyalty To Loyalty, and how elated and moved I was hearing just this past week. Cold War Kids are the type of band who understand the importance of storytelling and crafting a real sound that resonates with a crowd; seeing them live always reminds me of that.


Bottom line: Cold War Kids are true artists who craft not only meaningful hits with ease, but perform in such a way that you can’t help but feel connect to them. LA Divine is going to be huge for them and I cannot wait to see the success it brings.

Cold War Kids 10/24/15

(a) setlist

  1. Don’t Let Your Love Grow Away From Me
  2. Hang Me Up To Dry
  3. One Song at a Time
  4. Hot Coals
  5. Thunderhearts
  6. All This Could Be Yours
  7. Audience
  8. First
  9. We Used to Vacation
  10. Miracle Mile
  11. Cold Toes on the Cold Floor
  12. Royal Blue
  13. Drive Desperate
  14. Every Man I Fall For
  15. Hospital Beds
  16. Something is Not Right With Me


  1. Mexican Dogs
  2. Saint John

(b) highlights

  • Cold War Kids are the shiiiiiiiiit, man
  • CWK shows always feel stupid intimate, but this one in particular felt so incredibly special
  • the lighting was freaking cool – give the lighting guy a raise
  • seeing the band at their peak in popularity for an album that randomly gave them so much mainstream traction (Hold My Home) was awesome – you could tell they were having such a good time
  • something about this setlist in particular – perhaps the way they mixed in the classic hits with deeper cuts – felt wildly refreshing
  • they brought out a whole brass section for the encore – the horns took “Saint John” to a whole new level, I swear to God
  • Matt Maust – bassist extraordinaire and one of my favorite musicians all around – gave me the setlist at the end of the show; how freaking cool is that?! I still have that hanging in my bedroom

(c) lowlights

  • nothing, this band totally kills live; even Terminal 5 couldn’t bring me down

(d) overall thoughts

History has shown that I’ve seen Cold War Kids quite a few times – 3 or 4 times in 2015 alone, but this one had to be my favorite. Terminal 5 felt like their time to shine that night and the crowd was very much ready to be at their mercy. Hold My Home was doing so well with a younger and newer audience and it made me so proud of them. They’ve only gotten better as a live band and it’s made seeing them a complete joy.

Nathan Willett was in top-form and everyone was gelling together in that special Cold War Kids way; their jam band nature feels infectious. You can’t help but want to dance and move around with them. Everything from the production to the sound added to the intimacy of the evening and really kept everyone in the crowd present and alert. I remember “Hot Coals” in particular really hitting home – sometimes songs you’ve heard a million times gain new night when the band plays it just right.

I’ve always said that the band’s debut Robbers & Cowards is a truly perfect album, so of course I adore “Hospital Beds.” When the band brought out an awesome brass section to accompany them for the encore, I felt like I was experiencing the song for the first time. It’s such an amazing thing when a band you love so much and have seen so many times can still surprise you.


Bottom line: Any night seeing Cold War Kids is a beautiful night – their jam-band intimacy makes the audience feel like they’re part of the performance and their massive songs make that intimacy explode into stadiums jams. See them live. Please.


The Killers, Cold War Kids 6/21/15

(i) lineup

(1a) Cold War Kids
(2b) The Killers

(1a) (Cold War Kid’s) setlist

  1. All This Could Be Yours
  2. Miracle Mile
  3. One Song at a Time
  4. We Used to Vacation
  5. Audience
  6. First
  7. Louder Than Ever
  8. Hot Coals
  9. Hang Me Up to Dry
  10. Minimum Day
  11. I’ve Seen Enough
  12. Drive Desperate
  13. Hospital Beds
  14. Something Is Not Right With Me

(1b) highlights

  • seeing Cold War Kids in a festival setting for the first time
  • realizing that the token Cold War Kids’ intimacy and jam session-vibe live isn’t lost on a massive stage; their passion and fun was completely still there
  • the setlist killed and the crowd was totally into it

(1c) lowlights

  • apparently their piano broke before the last song? the band was down about it, but admitting full ignorance here, I totally did not notice

(1d) overall thoughts

When you’re standing in the sun all day, waiting at the main stage for the headliner to come on, you’re willing to sit through some garbage acts. Luckily, thank god, I didn’t have to deal too much with that because my Cold War Kids played a mid-day set and totally killed it. Their newer material from the album Hold My Home really resonated with the audience and I was happy they had such a good-sized crowd. Their passion and live fervor didn’t get lost in the open field and on the big stage; in fact, it gave them more room to move around and let the songs breathe a bit. So many mid-level bands phone in festival performances when they aren’t at the top of the bill, but Cold War Kids don’t deal with that mess. They showed up, performed super well, and definitely made more fans that day.

Bottom line: Seeing Cold War Kids is always a complete joy, and seeing them for an hour in the middle of a Delaware field on the hottest and longest day of the year was no different.

(I’m in this pic!)

Photo by: Ilya S. Savenok

(2a) (The Killers’) setlist

    1. Mr. Brightside
    2. Spaceman
    3. The Way It Was
    4. Smile Like You Mean It
    5. Bling (Confession of a King)
    6. Human
    7. Somebody Told Me
    8. Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)
    9. The Bucket (Kings of Leon cover)
    10. For Reasons Unknown
    11. From Here On Out
    12. A Dustland Fairytale
    13. Use Somebody (Kings of Leon cover)
    14. Read My Mind
    15. Runaways
    16. All These Things That I’ve Done


  1. This Is Your Life
  2. When You Were Young

(2b) highlights

  • “This Is Your Life” is always such a beautiful song and wonderful experience live – Brandon gets the crowd to wave their hands before the last bridge and it’s so freaking beautiful every time
  • seeing The Killers front row at huge festivals with gigantic crowds is always a memorable experience; it’s so great seeing how far they’ve come from their little Vegas roots

(2c) lowlights

  • Kings of Leon’s set was cancelled the day before at Firefly because of the weather; The Killers thought it would be cool to cover a few of their songs so people could still see them; I liked Kings of Leon’s first two albums but haven’t liked anything they’ve done in awhile; I paid to see The Killers, not Kings of Leon, but whatever
  • the band came on late, why why why are they always so damn late
  • I was so tired and it was so hot and the weekend was so long, I kinda lost it at different parts of the set

(2d) overall thoughts

I’ve seen The Killers headline many festivals many times and even though this wasn’t one of my favorite experiences, I know I can’t complain because it was really solid performance. Most of my complaints have little to do with the band and mostly to do with the circumstances (namely, the weather was awful and the Firefly promoters were pretty damn disorganized all weekend, which sucked for a lot of us). So, I’ll just say this: being front row at a festival where your favorite band is headlining and closing out the weekend playing an awesome set is kind of a dream. The Killers were showmen, added so much to the experience, and I got to hang out with all my friends seeing great live music all weekend. What more could anyone ask for?

Bottom Line: Being a part of 30,000 people waving their hands in the air during “This Is Your Life” is probably one of the best feelings ever, and also Kings of Leon are passed their prime so let’s stop giving them a spotlight please thanks.

Note: I took photos of both Cold War Kids and The Killers but my phone malfunctioned at the end of 2015 and for some reason, all the photos from this weekend were lost except this one below.


Cold War Kids 3/20/15

(a) setlist

    1. All This Could Be Yours
    2. Miracle Mile
    3. Loner Phase
    4. We Used to Vacation
    5. Red Wine, Success!
    6. Audience
    7. First
    8. Louder Than Ever
    9. Hot Coals
    10. Hang Me Up to Dry
    11. Harold Bloom
    12. Tuxedos
    13. Drive Desperate
    14. Something Is Not Right With Me
    15. Hospital Beds


  1. Bottled Affection
  2. Well Well Well (John Lennon cover)
  3. Hold My Home
  4. Saint John

(b) highlights

  • phenomenal setlist – singles, deep cuts, whatever – these dudes get song placement
  • just the show’s atmosphere, such intimacy and a garage-band jam feel about it
  • really dig the stage production – the lighting guy needs a raise or gold star
  • watching bassist Matt Maust pluck those bass strings is an other-worldly experience
  • “Harold Bloom” is hauntingly good, that John Lennon cover, basically everything

(c) lowlights

  • the crowd was shockingly young; seeing so many under 21’s at a show like this is always off-putting to me
  • Terminal 5’s Terminal 5-ness

(d) overall thoughts

Cold War Kids are one of the few bands that I instantly loved the moment I heard them. Their debut Robbers & Cowards is one of the best albums out there and I’ll always stand by that. I was supposed to first see them open for the White Stripes (!!) back in 2007, but that tour was cancelled because of Meg White-related troubles. That resulted in me having to wait eight years to see these guys, and this show is a long, on-going case in rectifying that.

I always say that seeing Cold War Kids live is like walking in a private garage-band jam session. It feels so stupidly intimate and personal and wonderful. The guys are crawling all over the stage, never standing still and idle, frequently hitting and bumping into one another in a way that makes every performance feel so special and unique. I’ve seen them quite a few times at this point and every show has felt different. This experience in particular was one of warm camaraderie – a brotherly love connection between band and audience.

This was one of the first shows in NYC for their fifth album Hold My Home, which has since given the band well-deserved mainstream praise in the most unexpected way. Their single “First” was actually the first time they had a number one hit, which, as a fan since 2005, makes me incredibly proud and totally baffled. How had it taken everyone so long to realize their greatness? I’ll always remember how wonderful Nathan sounded, how cool Matt looked, and how chillingly special each and every song made us all feel. When you see Cold War Kids, you feel them more than anything. And that’s the best part.


Bottom line: Every Cold War Kids show is an emotional experience more than a performance, and being in the audience feels more like a privilege than anything.