Thursday, August 15, 2013
Better than: Revisiting a Len record
"I'm not going to fucking do pushups. You do pushups. I'm not going to play that song either, I'm not doing what you want so you're fucked... Naw, we'll play it later."
It looks vile on paper, but this might be the clearest glimpse of Bethany Cosentino, though it's one of many candid Best Coast moments in between songs. It's a slightly odd adjustment, because if you're only familiar with this band's music, Best Coast's lead singer will surprise you the first time live.
It's barely been three years since Cosentino and Best Coast jumped onto radars off the stength of "Boyfriend" and their all around excellent Crazy For You LP. In that short time, Best Coast has showcased a clear voice and consistent view point -- one you'd assume is Cosentino's. These are songs about adolescence, the beach, and relationships on the surface. Many could cozy up to a lot of what you'd hear in '90s and early aughts pop radio (and her band, oddly enough, did just finish up a tour opening for Green Day).
But, in the most refreshing way possible, Cosentino does not pose as some teen beat rock princess. That bit of fan-girldom is there -- she'll dip into some near-acapella versions of classic pop throughout the night, doing a verse/chorus from TLC, the Cranberries, or Mariah, for instance. But she repeatedly sweats on stage from rocking just as hard as her partner in crime, guitarist Bobb Bruno. She tells stories about unsuccessfully ordering "vodka and Grey Goose" at the bar the night before. And when tuning her guitar, after goading Bruno for many songs to finally take the mic and sing his own '90s track, she's quick to not let him live it down. (Bruno took the mic, for the only time all evening, and succinctly said, "fuck on that" to the invitation to sing. "How about 'Fuck on that' is a thing you said just now," Cosentino replied.)
Best Coast is fun live for many reasons, but there is something that feels satisfyingly old school about a group writing summery songs and actually performing them as a band. (Think of artists you'd lump in with Best Coast: how many are traditional four piece rock acts that don't rely on electronic instruments of some sort?) Cosentino's voice grabs your attention forcefully -- a song like "Do You Love Me Like You Used To" is a good showcase with vocals leading the band in again and again. But Bruno's elongated riffs are equally enjoyable (and even earned him brief spotlight treatment from the house) on "When I'm With You" or many of the new songs. And the band showed that it's strongly in sync, even if not doing anything technically awe-inspiring, with crowd movers like "Each and Every Day."
So seeing Best Coast will conjure up some nostalgia, and just not for youthful SoCal days or '90s jams. The band played nearly as many songs off Crazy For You (nine) as from the rest of the catalogue combined (five from The Only Place, five from 2013 releases including a September EP). The album only came out in 2010, but this set felt like we heard Crazy For You tracks for the first time in forever. It's a bit of a shame that the music cycle moves so fast now that a true standout release can get lost this quickly (partially because the band has released a full album and at least two EPs since). While there may not be a thesis waiting for anyone who wants to sit down with Crazy For You for a few months, there's a lot of pleasure in its simplicity. Go see Best Coast for what you think of Cosentino and crew, leave with a new appreciation and a hankering for that old record.
Pushups? It was hard to hear unless you were near the stage, but apparently some fan was adamant about the pushups for a majority of Best Coast's set. Before the exchange near the top of this post, Cosentino fended off fitness requests at least twice. "No, there will be no pushups on stage, I'm in a dress," she explained. "There will be no buts on stage... unless it's his." Easiest round of applause Bruno earned all night.
Parting shot: While exiting the Fillmore in the typical traffic flow, the duo in front of me (two twentysomething guys): "I feel like bands always know they're going to give an encore, so it's just so indulgent, right?"
Crazy For You
I Want to Know (new song)
The Only Place
This Early Morning (new song)
No One Like You
How They Want Me To Be
Fear Of My Own Identity (2013 RSD release)
Dreams (The Cranberries cover)
When The Sun Don't Shine
Who Have I Become (2013 RSD release)
Fade Away (new song)
Always Be My Baby (Mariah Carey cover)
I Want To
No Scrubs (TLC cover)
When I'm WIth You
Each and Everyday
Do You Love Me Like You Used To