I was at Press Orientation at Bonnaroo’s media tent when I got a call from the Matt Maust, bassist and general ambassador of cool for Long Beach band Cold War Kids. Originally scheduled for a phone interview, I asked Matt if he wanted to meet. Soon enough, we were in his dressing room sharing beers and tales from the road.
Having just arrived at the 700-acre farm turned fest, Matt was still surveying the often-called utopian that is Bonnaroo. Seeing his dry mop, his dusty black shoes and sweat-stained v-neck-default uniform for the Cold War Kids – I informed him of the free Garnier shampooing station, one of my most curious finds on the grounds.
Like myself, the Cold War Kids had trouble entering the festival – rental car troubles and traffic delayed their arrival until a couple hours before they were slated to perform. Maust, drinking his pale ale while sprawled out on the couch, appeared calm and went on to expound on the nature of life on the road.
“When I perform, I like to yell the lyrics,” Maust said. “But you also have to be an actor because you are playing the same songs every night. Like “Hang Me Up To Dry” …
I don’t really want to play it tonight, but when you are on the stage, you never know.”
After a few minutes, the band went on to play about an hour set, slightly longer than they are used to. They played two brand new songs, freshly written from sound checks while on tour in Europe. According to Maust, in order to be able to write while sound checking, “you have to train yourself to think that you’re not sound checking, to just ignore everything.”
During the opening bass cranks of “Hang Me Out To Dry”, one of the Kids’s last tunes, Maust looked down at me (he let me linger backstage for the show) and began an obligatory strut around the stage, poignantly and precisely providing the crowd with explosive, blues-tinged rock. When the lead singer cried the refrain into the microphone, Matt helped engage the tent by howling the words to the sky, “too, too, too many times.”
For the future, the Cold War Kids will be opening up for the upcoming leg of The White Stripes American Tour. Psh, as if they didn’t have enough fun at Bonnaroo.