Friday, May 31, 2013

Sun soaked Cali rockers Best Coast jager it up at Nashville's Exit/In

Sunny California pop rockers Best Coast played a nice set at Exit/In Wednesday night, but more and more I feel I'm growing out the demographic for this band. The wave of teeny boppers that dotted a large part of the crowd was pretty jarring and not what I expected, though maybe I just haven't been keeping up. They started out as a lo-fi, fuzzy and totally blown out indie garage rock band with singles like "Sun Was High (So Was I)" and the original version of "Up All Night," which doesn't exactly scream 14-year old music. Yet many of those up near the front looked like they had to scam an ID to get into this 18 and up show. I stuck around long enough to snap a few shots of Beth and crew and then booked it toward the back, where fortunately the age range was a little more diverse.

The set itself was fortunately pretty skewed toward Crazy for You, which is still one of my favorite albums of 2010. On this site I have made no bones about my distaste for the band's latest album, The Only Place. Despite a couple of catchy songs here and there, it's far too sanitized, syrupy, and strips out almost everything that was musically interesting about Crazy for You. They kicked off with my personal favorite song in their catalog, "Goodbye," a sentimental grunge coated rocker which reveals a great deal about frontwoman Bethany Cosentino's personality, while ending in a wash of emotionally charged and powerful cascading vocals.

Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast strums a sunny tune.

From there they bounced around from upbeat, bouncy rockers (Crazy for You, The End) while also touching on some more poignant slow dance numbers designed to tug on your heart strings (No One Like You, How They Want Me to Be). There were also a couple of new songs inserted into the mix, including the recently released "Fear of My Identity." It's a nice number, and restores some of the homespun and crunchy nature stripped away on The Only Place.

It's a nice enough live piece, although after a while all of these songs drift by at such a midsummer's pace that they start to very similar to one another. Though, it's tough to deny that the songs themselves are still pretty solid. They're all pretty infectious and insatiable, even when the writing isn't always the best.

A few other couple notes of interest is that Best Coast's set included something they have never hinted at on the albums -- jamming. They transition between the slow, melancholy part of "I Want To" into the fast part was given extra long jam treatment, and they did it again on the main set closer "Each and Every Day." It wasn't much to get excited about -- mostly just fast strumming of repeated chords. It felt more like they were just aiming at surprising the audience rather than something that could actually grow to be a component of the band's sound. The fact that they jammed was interesting; the jamming itself was not so much.

Hilariously enough, after the first song of the encore, Beth requested Jager shots for the entire band, which she promptly downed onstage before tearing into set closer "Boyfriend." It proved to be ill advised. It led to her forgetting some of the words and gave a generally off kilter performance, which is uniquely embarrassing when you consider that "Boyfriend" was the initial single that led to them getting noticed in the first place, is still a setlist staple for many of the band's fans, and is easily one of the best songs in their catalog.

One of the other highlights of the night was local rockers Bully, who kicked off the evening. Despite their clear youth pulled off a seasoned and well structured set. Singer/guitarist Alicia Bognanno remarked a couple times onstage that the band had only recently just started and that she felt nervous, but this only helped endear the audience to her and by the end of the set the entire crowd was most definitely behind her. If nothing more, the performance should definitely encourage more confidence for future outings.

It was very obviously Best Coast/girl/grungy inspired, but she moved around with deft and precision on the neck of her guitar, and the tunes showed a knack for solid songwriting. The sound on the vocals was turned way down, as it was for the band that came after them, but from what could be surmised she had a fine voice. A comedic moment ensued when the band began leaving the stage and someone in the crowd shouted "One more!" She turned and said something to the effect of "That's it! We literally don't have anymore!" This prompted a chuckle from the crowd. Though still obviously in the formative stages, this should be a local band to keep an eye on. Give them a few years and they could well be on a Best Coast level themselves.
Related posts:

Best Coast - The Only Place review 
Best Coast - Crazy for You review 

No comments: