REVIEW: Cold War Kids @ House of Blues 2/1

By Gladys B. Vargas

Using soft mallets for the majority of their work, Overcoats’ drummer opens the night with steady, softened beats that allow for an atmospheric electro-pop sound with “Nighttime Hunger.” But if you’re at all familiar with Overcoats, you’ll more likely remember the effortless balance of 2 lovely sopranos, the main singers: Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. 

After being featured as one of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, Overcoats have toured by themselves and are currently accompanying Cold War Kids on their tour. The two groups don’t share much in common, but most of the crowd is open to–and even impressed by–the sound that the Overcoats have. 

The duo plays to the crowd’s interests too, asking for requests at one point. They play a piece of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Scar Tissue,” and entertain requests of Selena Gomez or Justin Bieber’s discography before playing their personal cover of “Cherry Wine” by Hozier. This quieter, more unassuming song does the work of highlighting how seamlessly the two can blend their harmonies. 

At moments throughout their opening set, the two add some synchronicity with simplistic choreography, including side-stepping and coordinated turns. When they close with their new song, “The Fool,” they join hands and literally bend backwards, as one of the lines mentions. Soon they make their exit, thanking the venue and the Cold War Kids for having them, but thankfully, this is not the last time we see them. 

Around 9pm Cold War Kids comes out on stage, each band member casually wielding a drink and setting up their instrument. The crowd livens with whoops and cheers as the keyboard bangs out the chords to “Love is Mystical.” And they run through a couple more newer songs before vocally welcoming the crowd to the show. 

“Boston!” exhausted lead singer Nathan Willet starts off, “We’re very excited to be here you guys…there’s always something about performing here–maybe it’s because it’s a Saturday night in Boston!” Eager to get back to the music, he introduces the next song, “Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?” as, “a new, new, new” song that they’ve never played before, and the keyboard strikes back up again. 

With set design that is limited to a backdrop with the band’s name on it and colorful lights, as well as very little speaking besides an occasional song introduction, Cold War Kids has a bare-bones approach to the show that recalls a garage band: guys just here to play music and rock out. The band members wander the stage, focused on sound with stoic faces, nodding along to the bass line, leaning into the audience every now and then to excite them. 

After a few more of their newer songs, Overcoats comes back onstage to join Willet at the piano for the tail-end of a refreshing piano ballad. For the songs that follow, the band starts switching up the instruments more often. Willet himself goes between vocals, guitar, and piano. One of the guitarists eventually trades his instrument for a tambourine and maraca, while the keyboardist in the back at one point plays cymbals with a maraca in one hand and a drumstick in the other. Even the drummer switches to a fork for a minute, as the Overcoats return from backstage with a cake and candles to wish him a happy birthday. 

An encore and performance of gold-certified “First” later, the band closes the show with acknowledgements, a “thank you” to Overcoats for joining them, and an invitation for the crowd to sing along to “Something is Not Right With Me.” 


1. Love is Mystical
2. Miracle Mile
3. Complainer
4. So Tied Up
5. Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?
6. Audience
7. Hang Me Up to Dry
8. Louder than Ever
9. Dirt in My Eyes
10. 4th of July
11. Mexican Dogs
12. Calm Your Nerves
13. Beyond the Pale (with The Overcoats)
14. Restless
15. Coffee Spoon
16. Hot Coals
17. Can We Hang On?
18. We Used to Vacation
19. Hospital Beds
20. First


21. This Could All Be Yours
22. Saint John
23. Something Is Not Right With Me