bestcoastneptune.JPG
crappy cell phone pic by me
Best Cost

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Neptune Theatre

Going into last night's Best Coast show, I was thinking

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Best Coast Brings Her Slightly Off-Key Summer Fun to the Neptune

bestcoastneptune.JPG
crappy cell phone pic by me
Best Cost

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Neptune Theatre

Going into last night's Best Coast show, I was thinking how hard it must be for a hyped artist to be touring behind a sophomore album that most everyone agrees is a brick. How do you balance playing the new songs with playing the old ones that the crowd wants to hear? Best Coast balanced their set list by playing 24 songs--which is, like, all of them, but which also only takes an hour because every song is only 2:30 minutes long. And if Bethany Cosentino and band were bothered by the largely lukewarm response to the (admittedly pretty weak) Jon Brion-produced The Only Place, they didn't show it last night. They were friendly and enthusiastic, cracking jokes and praising the Seattle crowd, which was pretty goddamn excited about Best Coast in return.

Cosentino not only praised the Seattle crowd, for its enthusiasm and for its crowd-surfing ("we don't get those"), she told them how much more fun we were than Portland, who she imitated by crossing her arms and standing still, pouting. (Huge cheers here.) Bruno spoke up to share the sentiment--"you guys are like the sweetest crowd ever"--and Cosentino teased that he, like, never talks. Later, she asked if they'd be selling cream cheese dogs out front, because Bruno would eat like 14 of them. Making fun of Portland? Seattle dogs? This was no "Hello, Shelbyville" schtick, these guys had done their research. Hats off.

Between the banter, though, there were the songs.

Some people are saying that the problem with The Only Place is that Brion's cleaner production strips away the forgiving fuzz and reverb of Best Coast's previous records, leaving Cosentino's newly twangy voice and pat lyrics up front with too little warmth to cushion them. That's true, and their live show certainly reinforces both the limitations of Cosentino's singing--she kept skipping the high notes, and although her and bandmate Bobb Bruno were joined by a drummer and a bassist, no one else had a mic to fill out the few two-part harmonies of the records--and her notoriously, if occasionally endearing "crazy/lazy" lyrics (which hit a new low on Only Place song "How They Want Me To Be," with its interminable stream of rhyming "be" with itself). But I get the feeling that part of it is that Cosentino bangs out 2-3 truly great songs for every batch of 12, a ratio which used to be able to reliably sell entire albums n the old days but which just seems paltry in the age of individual MP3s.

Anyway, I went into last night's show a pretty casual fan, but accompanied by a guest who loves Best Coast's entire first album, and we both left a little disappointed. The highlights for me came at the end in the encore, which included two of Best Coast's best songs, "Boyfriend" and "When I'm With You" played back-to-back, as well as a Fleetwood Mac cover ("Storms") that, while perhaps not on par with the original, was the first time in the whole show that Cosentino really flexed her vocal muscles. It was also the only song she played without a guitar or bass, and I wonder if not having the instruments in her monitors helped her track her singing a little better. It was a long time to wait to hear her rhyme "crazy" with "lazy," though.

Critical bias: My girl really likes them.

Overheard: "Best Coast is like Blink-182 for girls." "Blink-182 wasn't for girls?"

Points deducted: Drunken goons in the VIP row at the lip of the 21+ section and the all-ages floor were on some world-class entitled assholery: braying all through the show, spilling drinks on the GA floor/crowd in front of them, climbing over the rails separating the 21+ level from the all-ages. (This last one I saw them do three times before a security guard called them out on it--while still allowing them to finish the rail-jump.) You can buy VIP tickets, but you can never buy class.

 
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