Photos by LP
If you can credit California-based Surf Pop outfit, Best Coast with something remarkable, it’d be the ease with which the supporting cast harnesses their ability to utilize the earnest sense of emotional candidness omnipresent in front woman Bethany Cosentino’s lyrics to produce an infectious concoction that is vibrantly brimming with percolating guitars and jangly percussion, showing clear influences from 1960’s garage punk, as well. Bobb Bruno’s thickly-textured guitar solos resonate in a manner that infuses an ethereal soundscape evocative of the surf and the sand into Cosentino’s stoned confessionals, driven as much by preoccupation with a significant other as they are by a tangible longing for emotional fulfillment. It is apparent that Cosentino’s relationship with Wavves front man Nathan Williams served as the impetus for a great deal of the tracks off of both their albums to date – the fuzzed out lo-fi jangle pop of their debut ,Crazy For You, and its considerably polished follow up The Only Place, featuring production by Jon Brion.
Seeing their inaugural Miami performance at Downtown Miami’s Grand Central, yet another aspect of the band’s repertoire became readily apparent: Cosentino’s personable charm, which transcends the verses of her songs, carrying over to the stage, where she commanded the attention of the audience with her humorous asides that contrasted firmly with the listless sense of complacency which at times began to pervade her droning croon. “You guys are the best coast of the east coast,” said Cosentino, who spoke about her disdain for the beach, in between songs, and commented on the Miami weather as being such that she could actually enjoy going into the water without the duress that usually keeps her from enjoying it.
Fans flashed signs, the most interesting of which read, “Bethany, I’m pregnant, it’s yours.” The restless few who had populated the middle of the dance floor attempted admirably to start some sort of a mosh pit during some of the band’s faster, heavier numbers – a testament to the youth and vitality of those in attendance. Make no mistake, the crowd was decidedly young, and completely oblivious to the no smoking signs that adorned the pillars of that lined the perimeter of the venue, as the smell of weed and of cigarettes began to fill the entirety of the space.
While the ladies certainly outnumbered the guys, it was surprising to see how many males had shown up to see two estrogen-heavy bands perform. The tenaciously bold femininity of Those Darlins, who continually made empowered, conspicuous allusions not only to sex, but to male and female genitalia alike, particularly in tracks like the energetic riff fest, ‘Funstick Party,’ an ode to debauched sex, beer and good times. As the opening act, Those Darlins was the ideal foil to the more deliberately-paced Best Coast. Fronted by the beautiful Jessi Darlin and Nikki Darlin, the talented Nashville three-piece sported a deftly sprawling three-pronged attack on guitar, with the two Darlins switching off on vocals while Linwood Regensburg unfurled serpentine solos.
The vocalists were equal parts Joan Jett and Dolly Parton, as the group traversed the point of equilibrium between Southern roots rock, country and the lo-fidelity reverberations of the fuzzed out garage rock. Cosentino openly spoke of her admiration for Those Darlins, mentioning them as her favorite in one of her asides. Best Coast’s performance lacked the same kind of energy that was exhibited by their opening act, and while Cosentino used her charm and blatant good looks to her advantage, it did little to atone for the fact that her drawn out croon felt monotonous at times, rendering the impression that she was bored while performing. This was only compounded by the slight missteps that occurred onstage – particularly the instance in which Cosentino stopped the band in the middle of a song and started over again because it wasn’t to her liking. There were other points in which it sounded as though her vocals were not particularly in synch with the instrumentation.
While the pacing of their set was ideal, borrowing material equally from both of their studio releases, and pacing them so that the slower tracks filled the middle of their performance, the fact that the thematic content of their most recent release, The Only Place, is so similar to that of their debut does little to ameliorate the sense of monotony that pervaded at times during the show. While it’s clear that Best Coast possesses substantial talent, it would be interesting to see precisely what directions Bethany Cosentino can go in from a creative standpoint that can show facets to her ability that have gone otherwise unseen.
“Crazy For You”
“The Only Place”
“When I’m With You”
“How They Want Me to Be”
“Why I Cry”
“Dreaming My Life Away”
“Let’s Go Home”
“Do You Still Love Me Like You Used To”
“Something in the Way”
“I Want To”
“Sun Was High (So Was I)”
“When I’m With You”
“When the Sun Don’t Shine”