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I know this show is over two weeks old, and it’s a very late post, but my old woman has been giving me a lot of grief about cleaning up the house, and I’ve been trying to get the hydro ‘nip project perfected. Sorry man, it ain’t easy being self-sufficient. 

I’m not much for hype, as that involves paying attention. But it’s been hard to ignore the heaps of praise that are being scooped onto Cold War Kids, a young quartet from Southern California. They toured with Tapes ‘n Tapes recently, a band that also found itself suffocating with “the next best thing” thing. I had a chance to go to that show, which was like a Monsters of Indie Rock tour (The Figurines also played). 

I was utterly wasted on catnip brownies and was probably facing the wrong direction for most of the show, but holy crap, the kids kicked major ass. I tried to tell Suzie that she needed to get to the show ASAP, but she was in heat, and craving some serious tomcat attention.

It wasn’t all lost though, as the group played a one-off show in San Francisco only ten days later. How’s that for cosmic aura luck stuff purple crystal thingy?

Cold War Kids have to be seen live. Listening to their studio work, you’d never know the lead singer screams with his hands, the bass player looks a lot like a baby rapist, the drummer drums with his whole body, the guitarist sings whenever he wants to, or that a Pellegrino bottle plays an important part in their sound.

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There are no theatrics in their show (which is odd given the fact that they’re totally like–artsy, I mean just look at the picture above). No lights, no smoke, no feather boas, just four kids who really dig their jams. Even though they only have 3 EPs out (buy them all–trust me), their set is packed with brilliant song after brilliant song. Take your piss before they come on, because you don’t want to miss a second.

As much as I gush about CWK, it was Apollo Sunshine that really surprised me. Who the fuck are these guys? Bluegrass? Jam band? Power pop? It’s all there–and it sounds incredible live.

Knowing they were headlining that night, I checked ’em out and was pretty impressed. “This should be an interesting show,” I said softly, hands folded sitting nicely in a chair. “Very nice indeed.”

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All I can say is they rocked the grandma out of me. That may not make much sense, but if you picture me like I picture myself in the paragraph above, and then picture my old lady glasses crooked, hair a mess, mascara running, nylons torn, skirt askew, and lipstick streaked across my face, you’ll get a pretty good idea of how awesome Apollo Sunshine were live. To better help you imagine the transition, think of one of those crazy “extreme” snack products commercials, where a librarian turns into a punk rocker after eating a Slim Jim or something. By the way, I’m not a grandma, I know. It’s just a metaphor, and an awful one at that.

The front man (if you can say they have one) is Jesse Gallagher, the bass player/keyboardist/vocalist who does all three jobs at the same time. He’s the crazy chatty one. Sam Cohen plays guitars, sometimes on his back, sometimes bouncing back and forth between a traditional axe and a slide guitar…within split seconds. He’s the theatrical one. Jeremy Aaron Black mans the skins and just looks really fucking happy. He’s the happy one.

They started off mellow-ish, but I’ve never seen a setlist properly put together like this one. I won’t bother you with what they played, how they sounded, or any other junk like that. Instead, we’ll just examine Jesse. 

He started off the show properly dressed in a sweater vest and a tie. At one point he was talking to someone in the audience who may or may not have been heckling him. I think he just said something like, “Dude, you’re weird.” Then he did a little freestyle rapping with some hip-hop beat punched up on his keyboard. Then he grabbed some beers and handed then out to the crowd. Then he did it again. Then he did it again. Then he gave me one. Fucking righteous. After that he stripped down to just a vintage varsity basketball tanktop as he got progressively drunker and the show got more intense.

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Before…             …after.

Now we’ll take a look at Sam. First of all, he looks like a Mr. Show character. He plays the guitar with his mouth. Well not really, but he is a guitar god and plays it like those obnoxious wannabe air guitarists, but it comes off awesome. Somewhere during the show, he was scooting along on his back like Marty McFly in Back to the Future.

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If it sounds a bit unusual, yeah… it is. As for their sound? Well, each song is basically a microcosm of the entire show. They start off one way, end another, and take several detours inbetween. Their Web site described them as influenced by Donovan and Outkast. Spot on.

Make sure to download “Phyllis” below–I was the annoying guy who kept asking them to play it, even though they pretty much close each set with it. Jesse heard me meowing, and said, “It’s a good song, isn’t it.” Jesse, I’m going to have to agree with you on that one.

Extra points for playing covers of Psychokiller, Helter Skelter, and Whole Lotta Love. Oh, and the beer. Thanks guys. See them now when you can see them play smaller venues. These kids are about to blow up, son.

Cold War Kids and Apollo Sunshine? One of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Evar. Pictures from said show below.

So where can you see them again? Cold War Kids are on tour with Sound Team on the Least Coast, and play some West Coast shows with Editors. August 7 at San Francisco’s Fillmore, in fact. Apollo Sunshine continue their tour-happy lifestyle and hit the West Coast in September–two shows at the Independent on the 7th and 8th.

Cold War Kids (myspace) (Web page)

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Cold War Kids – Hang Me Up to Dry (Live at the Drunken Unicorn)
Cold War Kids – We Used to Vacation (KEXP session)
Cold War Kids – Saint John (KEXP Session)
Cold War Kids – Tell Me in the Morning
Cold War Kids – The Soloist in the Living Room

The rest of the Drunken Unicorn show is available at superblog Cable & Tweed. Thanks Cable, and thanks Tweed.

Apollo Sunshine (myspace) (Web page)

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Apollo Sunshine – Today is the Day (Live at Lupo’s)
Apollo Sunshine – Phyllis (Live at Lupo’s)

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