Cold War Kids
April 11 | 9:30 Club | $25
Resurging from a two-year absence, Cold War Kids have again made their mark on alternative rock. This California-based ensemble defies the limitations of the indie genre, producing the kind of animated, lively singles with subtly visceral lyrics that bands like Foster the People now champion. Sprightly and rhythmic, their latest single, “Miracle Mile,” suggests the band is delving into the genre’s penchant for fun and uplifting musicality. An energetic, revitalizing tone flourishes after a constrained intro riff, mirroring the band’s burst from a mini hiatus. Cold War Kids’ 9:30 Club appearance will arrive right as their next album, “Dear Miss Lonelyhearts” does, promising a varied set of standard, older hits for longtime fans and fresh tracks for those newbies flocking to their whimsical formula for rock.
Score: Seldom does a band return from a musical hiatus with such energy, bravado and, frankly, success. Even more promising, the refreshing tonality of “Miracle Mile” might just set the sound for the rest of their new album.
Bore: While Cold War Kids have consistently delivered a uniquely magnetic sound, to some, they may just sound like run-of-the-mill indie rockers.
Feb. 12 | 9:30 Club | $40
For someone confined to the singer-songwriter title, Rufus Wainwright possesses musical dexterity rarely found in contemporary artists. With a self-authored classical opera under his belt, Wainwright’s music ranges from haunting, orchestral piano pieces – his stunning, droning “Hallelujah” cover – to bouncier, energetic pop-friendly tunes. Yet despite his atypical approach to modern pop, Wainwright’s lyrical themes remain as accessible as ever. His meditations on everything from discordant relationships to political culture prove inclusive, as anyone who’s endured unrequited love or social disillusionment can find solace in Wainwright’s tales.
Score: In a live setting, Wainwright’s inclusion of strings, horns and organs is sure to amaze.
Bore: The operatic musical theatrics of this set might be off-putting to those with an aversion to the histrionic.
Machine Gun Kelly
March 8 | Fillmore Silver Spring | $22.50
“I speak out for the kids who don’t have shit,” Richard Colson Baker, also known as Machine Gun Kelly, muses in his “See My Tears” music video. To be certain, Machine Gun Kelly can empathize with his audience. His adolescence, punctuated by drug addiction, depression and a fragmented family, now serves as the impetus for his entire music-making process. Machine Gun Kelly chronicles the tribulations of society's misfits, and his spit-fire verses are all delivered with the unbridled confidence and ballsy pomposity of someone who adopted the name of a notorious 1920’s gangster as his stage moniker.
Score: With his huge net of support from the rap community, from Waka Flocka to Diddy, you never know who might make a surprise appearance at his show.
Bore: MGK’s most famed hit, “Wild Boy,” exemplifies the artist’s most juvenile tendencies: Its boasting is unwarranted, and its repetitive “Yeah, bitch, yeah bitch/Call me Steve-O” hook is lyricism at its dumbest.