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Photos & Words By Sylvie Spewak

When PAPA began, the audience was barely half filled. But as the night wore on, excitement and curiosity rose. I noticed whisperings and confusion around me right off the bat. The man with the guitar at the front of the stage was not the source of lead vocals. Who was singing? And then there was awe. We were delighted to discover that the drummer, Darren Wiess, is also lead vocals.

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I loved that the drummer took center stage. He brought rhythm and lyrics to the forefront of PAPA’s music, lending a refreshing and sophisticated edge to the music they create. It worked. And it worked beautifully.

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The four guys on stage produced an immediately likeable sound. The audience couldn’t help but to bop and dance to the energetic and melodic tones. The two guitarists helped out with harmonies that highlight the striking lyrics of Wiess’s words. Their debut album, Tender Madness, was released earlier this month and the performance was reflective of a new showcase of style. Each man on stage was able to demonstrate his talents, each song was well orchestrated, and the performance as a whole was entirely enjoyable. I’m excited to keep track of these guys. I’m definitely a new fan.

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Over the past five years, the Cold War Kids have amassed a collection of discography that spans mood, message, tone, and style. Listening through it before the concert, I couldn’t pinpoint a theme. Soulful, bluesy, indie rock combined with high energy mainstream beats which clashed with mournful ballads exploring the deeper questions of the soul. Their newest album is a different creature entirely.

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As soon as the band found their places on stage, something clicked. Whatever questions I had melted with the rising energy of the performance. I got it. It made so much sense. It just did.

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The crowd was an eclectic group, many of whom were die hard CWK fans ready to put their souls on display. And when the band came out, we all felt immediately welcomed. They had come to play just for me. It was like each group member, five guys with distinct and quirky characters, made it a point to form a relationship with each member of the audience. Dan Gallucci, preciously the guitarist for Modest Mouse, was especially fun and without restraint. By the end of the performance, I felt that they knew me inside and out.

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Songs like “Hospital Beds,” “Hang Me Up To Dry,” and “Pine St.” (from their new EP) pulled me in and explained their hidden secrets. I danced, I sang, and sometimes I just stood hypnotized by the man looking at me from stage.

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Near the end, Nathan Willett sat himself at the dimly lit piano on the end of the stage. He taught us the lyrics; “Alright stay, you’ve got my attention. All my pain is bottled affection.” Then he performed the song itself, motioning to us to sing along. We felt it, we belt the ballad at the tops of our lungs. And in that moment, it all made sense.

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