Tag Archives: Best Coast

Best Coast & Wavves at the Bluebird February 27th 2016

Let’s get this out of the way: this is going to be a terrible concert review. If you want a track-by-track accounting of the Best Coast/Wavves show I attended on Saturday February 27, 2016 you should look elsewhere. The show was probably very good and not the massive existential crisis I am about to make it out to be. Both bands are great and combining them in one show really is a fantastic sensory experience. While the two bands couldn’t be further apart in terms of style and fan appeal, seeing them back-to-back was an incredible experience. I’d seen Best Coast twice and Wavves once by themselves, but seeing them together was something else entirely. I liken it to mixing peanut butter and chocolate, the mixing of two different, complementary, flavors that combine to make something even tastier.

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This is face of a man who is scared shitless (and full of Miller Lite).

This concert was important for me historically because it was the last concert I will attend as a childless man. My wife and I are expecting our first child in mid-April and the specter of parenthood which has been hanging over me is reaching its cold, icy fingers of responsibility around my throat. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier and am genuinely excited to be a father, I can tell that I am at the end of an epoch. I’m now very much sensitive to the passage of time and my mortality. Which brings me to the Best Coast/Wavves concert. The tour was billed as “Summer Is Forever II” which played on the fact that both bands are from California and sing a lot about summer and the beach. Bethany Cosentino, whose songs are usually very introspective and melancholy despite having a veneer of sunshine, fronts Best Coast. While Nathan Williams leads Wavves, a pop-(stoner)punk outfit who are increasingly reveal themselves to be more introspective and insecure with each subsequent album. The romance between Cosentino and Williams has been widely reported, and though they’re probably only friends now, the tour definitely played up there past.

This show had plenty of yings and yangs, but let me fixate on the ones that really mattered. For one thing, the very notion of “Summer Is Forever II” is both appealing and stomach churning. I walked into the Blue Bird Theater about 30 minutes before the start of the show, the crowd slowly filling with fans sporting the telltale black “X” of the under 21. I found a spot in the middle of the venue, confident that nobody would really get near me until the sold-out crowd showed up later in the set. I was right. For the most part I was invisible. Not yet old enough to be the “old guy” at the rock show, I was old enough to be be apart from the majority of the crowd. Ying: young fans Yang: old ass blogger.

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Sipping a Miller Lite from a plastic cup, I stared at the open band Cherry Glazerr and pondered the “Summer Is Forever II” banner at the back of the stage. I’m going to skip over the part where this tour is a sequel to a 2011 Best Coast/Wavves tour, and instead focus on the fact that a sequel can only happen if the first one ends. That would seem to suggest, to me at least, that summer isn’t forever. Best Coast took the stage and after a few songs Bethany remarked that she was sad that the tour was ending in a week. Already the magic was broken: all of this was going to come to and end…and soon. I’d seen Best Coast in September, at the same venue, and I thought that this Saturday performance was better than the one I’d seen on a weeknight.  The songs sounded better and the crowd was really digging the music. The songs that play sad and a bit navel-gazey at home in my earbuds felt more upbeat and playful live. There was really only one song I wanted to hear, “In My Eyes” with its sing-songy chorus and when it was played in the middle of the set I felt satisfied. Ying: A young lead singer. Yang: She was wearing an old Sublime t-shirt.

Wavves are by no means a “hard” band, but they’re certainly rougher than Best Coast. And it’s not just a boy/girl thing either; their approaches are completely different.  That’s part of the mystique surrounding their sometimes coupling: he’s so coarse and unrefined and she’s so sensitive. The two had a real Beauty and the Beast thing going on, the kind of thing Hollywood couldn’t invent on its best day. While I think Wavves make the better music, I haven’t been following their music as closely as Best Coast. Mostly because Wavves second-to-last album was a dense collaboration with Cloud Nothings title NO LIFE FOR ME. They actually played a song off this record that sounded pretty good live, which makes me think that I’m probably wrong about not liking it so much and need to give it a re-listen. Wavves started out as a kind of neo-stoner rock surf outfit that’s slowly mutated into a neo-Grunge band in the vein of Nirvana. I can’t blame them for aping Kurt and Company, who were acting indifferent and complicated back when Wavves were just an itch in their daddies shorts.

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The crowd got rowdy during the Wavves set and the house started throwing kids out for stage diving. I immediately noticed a member of the Wavves staff whose job it was to monitor the goofballs clambering onto the stage. The first few meekly jumping off as soon as they got on stage and them more brazenly trying to shuck and jive on stage or take a quick selfie with the band. The dude working for Wavves either pushed them back into the crowd or carted them off stage and out the emergency exit. The soon-to-be father part of me couldn’t help but worry about the bigger dudes when they leapt into the crowd, sometimes headfirst. The section where I was standing wasn’t moshing, but the first few rows were really…enthusiastic. I was glad to be standing apart from the fray, mostly because I no longer want a lot of sweaty contact with co-eds.

Wavves played the song I most wanted to hear, “Demon To Lean On” from their second album AFRAID OF HEIGHTS, though it sounds like it could have come from mid-1990’s Seattle. They played “Heavy Metal Detox” which is the only song I remember from their most recent album V. Other highlights from the show include “Nine is God” which is on the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack and  “Green Eyes” off their second album KING OF THE BEACH. Both of those songs made me remember why I love Wavves so much. Ying: They don’t give a fuck. Yang: They give so many fucks.

After a fairly long set of stage-diving, sweaty choruses, and inflatable alien dolls; Wavves bid us goodnight and walked off the stage. Then the house lights came up and it was clear that the show was over without an encore. A younger me would have felt cheated and would have complained, but I’m old and so I was grateful I was getting to go home. And just like that, I shuffled out into the cold and waited for my Uber to come so I could go home. That was it. That was my last rock show as just “Jason” before becoming “Dad.” Anticlimactic? Hell yes. Just like how summer isn’t forever, everything has a season. And those seasons all end, without exception. I remember going to shows in 2003 with one, two, sometimes three encores. I remember leaving with ears that would ring for a day or two after the show. I’ve caught guitar picks and pieces of drum kits. I’ve been pushed in a crowd and pushed back. I once saw a domestic dispute at a Tina Turner concert, how’s that for seeing everything? It feels like the show is over and everybody has to go home, but really it’s just me that has to go.

I have tickets to see The Flaming Lips in May, which I’m super-stoked about, but it feels like this is the end. This “Summer Is Forever II” show couldn’t have been a better ending for me. I love how superficial and finite it felt. Both bands perpetuate a kind of youthful exuberance that appeals to the aging hipster in me. Part of me likes to think that when I’m home doing dad-things they’ll be out there somewhere rocking…like the Dude in the Big Lebowski taking it easy for the rest of us. But the truth is, both of these bands are getting older. Nathan got a haircut since the last time I saw him in 2011. The long-haired rocker has become the sensibly coiffed crooner. Everything keeps moving forward and everything comes to an end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CALIFORNIA NIGHTS by Best Coast

Five years have passed since Best Coast’s debut album, CRAZY FOR YOU, came out and lead singer-songwriter Bethany Cosentino is still bummed out. While nowhere close to approaching a Morrissey-level of depression, Best Coast’s songs are all pretty much about doomed love, unrequited love, broken relationships, and self-doubt. So why the hell do I love Best Coast so much? While the songs are sad, they’re catchy and sung in such a way that they come across as genuine without being embarrassingly earnest. Cosentino exudes so much hutzpah that even though she sounds sad, you feel like she’ll get over it and become a stronger person.

Now, don’t for a moment think that Best Coast is break-up music, because that’s not it at all. The songs are usually wistful with a don’t look back in anger kind of mindset. Best Coast is tragic love music that sometimes drifts into upbeat moments in the sun. Though Best Coast wears their California love on their sleeves, this music is the audio equivalent of Seattle or Portland. Dark, gloomy, but also filled with a strange Pacific optimism.

I really dig this album cover, but where's Snacks the Cat?

I really dig this album cover, but where’s Snacks the Cat?

The band’s first album was a blend of early 1960’s girl groups and lo-fi shoegaze. Two years later, Best Coast released THE ONLY PLACE, the troubled second album that every band must struggle through. And while I wouldn’t call THE ONLY PLACE a disaster, I remember finding it a bit of a disappointment. There were a handful of standout songs like Beach Boys-esque title track and the solemn closing track “Up All Night.” But for the most part, THE ONLY PLACE was a bit of a step back for Best Coast. Indulgent and a bit too self-referential, there were songs on that second album that teetered dangerously close to parody (I’m looking at you “Why I Cry”).

When CALIFORNIA NIGHTS came out earlier this month, I was looking forward to listening to it but I was cautious about it’s quality. I really wanted CALIFORNIA NIGHTS to be great. I didn’t want CRAZY FOR YOU to be the band’s nadir, and luckily (for everyone) CALIFORNIA NIGHTS is the band’s best album. The band took a little more time recording their third album and it seems to have paid off. The songs are super-catchy like CRAZY FOR YOU but more polished/better produced like on THE ONLY PLACE.

There it is, the actual "best coast."

There it is, the actual “best coast.”

The songs are still sad, but they sound so fun. The best example of this is on the track “In My Eyes.” The track is bouncy and upbeat musically while being about the loss of a relationship. “In My Eyes” has a catchy, fun to sing along chorus…that’s absolutely devastating lyrically. I really like doubt-filled “Jealousy” with its classic girl group sha-la-la’s. I also dig the moody title track “California Nights” which continues in the group’s grand tradition of extolling the virtues of the Golden State.

The single “Heaven Sent” is the albums happy love song, something the band always tries to sneak onto each record. I’m grateful that its there. Special mention should be made for guitarist Bobb Bruno, who continues to provide interesting, lush guitar riffs for Cosentino’s beautiful grief. Though Cosentino gets the bulk of the praise for Best Coast’s music, Bruno is a key ingredient in what gives the band it’s wonderful happy/sad sound. CALIFORNIA NIGHTS is a great record and is going to be the perfect soundtrack to the summer. If you haven’t yet dipped your toes into Best Coast, CALIFORNIA NIGHTS is a good place to start. So next month, when you’re hosting your Lonely Hearts BBQ, throw on little CALIFORNIA NIGHTS. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

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Highly-Unscientific Rock Poll: All-Time Best Song of Summer

Sometimes there are questions too big for one man. Sometimes, in the search for ultimate truth, we must seek the guidance of others. And then there are times when one wants to increase traffic to one’s blog by actively seeking participation of one’s small readership by stoking the fires of eternal debate…

Yes friends, it’s time to review the lastest statistical disaster I like to call my HIGHLY-UNSCIENTIFIC ROCK POLL!  With the temperatures rising and the days lasting longer, I found myself in a summer mood.  I have a lot of fond memories of sitting by an inflatable kiddie pool listening to the radio.  I also spent an inordinate amount of time driving around the suburbs listening to an assortment of shitty pop stations.  Anyway, summer means many things to many people, which meant choosing an all-time best song of summer wasn’t going to be easy–luckily I had some help this week.

9, 8, 7 and 6 (no votes) “Let’s Go Surfin” and “California Girls”  by The Beach Boys, “Summertimes Blues” by Eddie Cochran, “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley, and “Summer Mood” by Best Coast: So I guess I should start off by saying that this poll is full of meddling.  Even though about the same number of people participated in the poll as usual, meddling was up 300% from my last two rock polls.  Initially I only had one Beach Boys song on the list, but one of my relatives on Facebook (where these scientific polls are conducted) asked me to add “Let’s Go Surfin,” which is fine but after I added it–she didn’t vote.  So technically “Let’s Go Surfin” should have one vote, but I’m a stickler for the rules and just commenting on a poll does not equal an actual vote. I’m a Beach Boys fan, as cheesy as 99.999% of their songs are–you have to give them one thing: they own the summer.  They have so many songs about the beach, summer, waves, surfing, riding around in cars, etc. that to exclude them from your summer music mix would be a crime.  “Summer Mood” by Best Coast was my attempt to add something a bit newer (less classic rock-ish) to the poll, though I can see why they got no votes.  I absolutely love Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer.”  That song really takes me back to high school and all the things I should have done, could have done…it’s a very bittersweet song and whenever I hear it I think about those high school summers. I’m a bit surprised it didn’t get a vote (I couldn’t vote for it because it makes me a bit sniffly).

“Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran, are you fucking kidding me? No votes? Clearly this poll is unscientific because we all know that song kicks-ass–there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues!!!!

3. “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry: Alright, more meddling, but this was meddling of the welcomed variety.  One of my poll-takers added Mungo Jerry’s laid-back classic to the list, how I forgot this tune I’ll never know.  I heard it again on the radio and it pretty much sums up the summer experience.  I don’t know a thing about Mungo Jerry, and I bet you don’t either, but we’ve all heard the song.  If I could have had two votes I definitely would have voted for this song.  I also love how creepy/fucked up it is towards women.  It’s such a happy-song and then bam! The singer give you advice about how to treat the daughter’s of rich and poor men (“if her daddies rich, take her out for a meal/if her daddies poor, then do what you feel”).  I always like a little creepy in my summer.

2. “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls: Sigh, this was more meddling on the part of my poll-takers.  I guess this is what I get for allowing people to add their own options.  DEMOCRACY: IT JUST DOESN’T WORK.

1. TIE: “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper and “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful: I voted for “Summer in the City” because it’s catchy and a little scary sounding.  That keyboard riff is iconic, you hear it and you instantly know what song your hearing.  Mungo Jerry’s song perfectly captures the easy-going nature of the country in summer  and The Lovin’ Spoonful do the same thing for the city.  Except the city is not easy-going.  The song rhymes “city” with “pity” so  you know dark shit is going on.  Whenever I hear this song I think about that dirty mixture of smog and sweat.

Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” is a fantastic choice for #1 as well.  We’ve all been there–counting down the days until school was out for the summer.  Remember cleaning out your locker? I used to gleefully throw everything away. School is out for the SUMMER!  It’s been a few years since I was “out for summer” so this song has lost a little of it’s appeal, which is kind of sad now that I think about it.  Like “Summer in the City,” “School’s Out” has a dark edge to it as well (what with all the talk about school being blown up and the chuggy-guitar riff). When I think of summer, I don’t think of “dark” or “gritty” so why did these songs end up getting the most votes? I suppose it’s the highly-unscientific nature of the poll, but I also think that as a species we’re attracted to the macabre…even in the middle of summer.

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Best Coast & Wavves: An Indie Rock Love Story

A few weekends ago I saw Tony Scott’s TRUE ROMANCE for the first time (not sure why it took me so long to finally see it). Have you seen this movie? It’s pretty good, if you haven’t you need to check it out. Anyway, in a nutshell it’s about these two completely looney/borderline-psychotic people who fall in love…and into a whole world of trouble. It reminded me of Bethany Cosentino and Nathan Williams. These two kids just belong together, even though it would probably better for them both if they weren’t a couple… I can’t believe how invested I am in their romance. Anyway, Bethany is a band called Best Coast and Nathan fronts a punk-pop-noise band called Wavves. Both hail from California and are full of a kind of youthful vigor and passion that makes me both incredibly happy and sad at the same time.

She and him together (with a photographer).

Let’s go back to 2010. I can’t remember where exactly I was when I first heard Wavves, but somehow I heard them and they blew me away. Wavves is everything I love about rock and punk all rolled up into with a generous sprinkling of killer stoner-riffs and shit-tons of attitude. And not to draw too many comparisons to another famous California band (i.e. The Beach Boys), the lead singer the leader of Wavves (Nathan Williams) wrote about the beach and the ocean–even though he doesn’t swim. I guess that appeals to me because I don’t know how to swim either. The mysticism/idea of the American beach-scene is so appealing to me, even though I’d never take my shirt off in public. Because it’s not about taking your shirt off or swimming. Hell, it’s not even about surfing. It’s about the freedom; the foot-loose-and-fancy-free attitude. It’s also about the notion that all of life can be distilled into a “way of life”, a way of life revolving around beach fires and surfing–that shit appeals to me.

It wasn’t soo after I started listening to Wavves excellent album KING OF THE BEACH that I found out the mysterious Nathan Williams was head-over-heels in love with a cool stoner chick named Bethany Cosentino–who it just so happened, fronted a band of her own called Best Coast. Best Coast and Wavves, could their names be a more perfect match? And their music compliments each other as well. Where he is sour, she is sweet. It’s a bittersweetness, but a sweetness nonetheless. I got her band’s album BEST COAST and found myself liking it just as much as KING OF THE BEACH (though in a different way) . Listening to both albums and knowing that the two are connected is like watching a film in 3-D, it’s not necessary to enjoy the proceedings but it does add an extra dimension to proceedings, and yes…it does make you feel like you are “there.”

Their unwieldy, moody young love is laid bare in both of their records, almost to an embarrassing extent. That these two people, a stoner-skater boi and a cool-ass artist chick, would need each other so much is as startling as it is pedestrian. In a way they’re like an indie version of Romeo and Juliet. Whereas his music is brash and defiant, her’s is wistful and seductive, but even on his KING OF THE BEACH record, there are moments of genuine affection I can’t help assume is directed at Bethany. By themselves Bethany and Nathan are good, but with the help of their love, what they create is amazing. His KING OF THE BEACH album and her BEST COAST album are perfect bookend/yin-and-yangs. They complement each other in ways that only a man and woman in love could. But they are young, famous, and artistic–and their love, while perfect in it’s imperfection, can only last so long. I hope I’m wrong. In fact, even though I’m not religious, I pray that I’m wrong. Having them break-up would be more devastating than if my own parents broke up.

The BEST COAST album is nothing but a giant love letter to Nathan: he doesn’t love her as much as she loves him, she needs him, but he just wants to be friends. He’s a typical young jerk, not willing to give himself completely to her. It’s just how he is. The Wavves album, KING OF THE BEACH is playful, and at times angry and defiant, he’s just having fun and getting stoned…on her weed we find out from listening to the Best Coast album(!). The Wavves album is balls-to-the-walls FUN, whereas the Best Coast album is tortured and a little sad (why won’t he just love her the way she loves him?). In a way, it’s a bit like inhabiting the bodies of two people witnessing the same car accident–both are seeing the same thing but a few key details seem to be fundamentally different based on their individual biases.

there are moments on the Wavves album where we see that Nathan can’t espace Bethany and his feelings for her (like on “Green Eyes”). Watching them fall in love–or rather listening to them–is magical and akin to seeing a younger brother or sister experience love for the first time. I don’t want either of them to get hurt because I like them both, but I know that’s not possible. And yet I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because that’s just what young people do–they fall in love and get hurt. It’ll make them better people in the end, and probably give us at least three or four awesome Wavves/Best Coast albums worth of material.

The third person of this love triangle–SNACKS the CAT!!!

Best Coast has a new album coming out on Tuesday, and I’m a little worried. The first Best Coast record, BEST COAST, is full of beautifully tortured unrequited love songs…all about Nathan. Now that the two rockers are living in rock-bliss, what kind of record will we get? I mean, I want these kids to be happy, but I also want their records to be badass…and happiness and badass rock are not always the best of friends. But I’m going to reserver judgement until I’ve heard the full record. Perhaps the bliss of young love will surprise me and provide fertile rock material (but I doubt it). It’s a bit of a double-edged sword: I want them to be happy but at the same time I want awesome records that only emotional discontent will provide.

Wavves put out an excellent EP last year (LIFE SUX) but a forthcoming album has me worried. What will Nathan do now that he’s happy? Why does an artist have to be unsatisfied to produce worthwhile art? I don’t make the rules kids, I just live by them. Either way, these two bands have done more than just mythologize the great state of California, they’ve provided me a window back into the tortured world of young love. If you have a heart and love rock and want to relive young (stupid, incredibly destructive) love, then I strongly urge you to check out the stoner-rock-punk shenanigans of Waaves and the echo-y, lovelorn sounds of Best Coast.

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