LIVE: BEST COAST – 17/06/2012
Now Wave gigs regularly promise plenty of bands and no fillers, as with tonight’s quadruple bill. The thankfully renovated Ritz is starting to get a little sticky underfoot again, due to spilt beer. At £4.35 for a pint of Guinness, I’m not wasting a drop.
Psychedelic dark punk pop rock band Pins kick things off. The local, hotly tipped all girl band look and sound great up there, growing in stage presence it seems, after a rather nervous performance supporting ∆ (Alt-J) a few weeks back. It’s a tight set – rumbling drums and bass help build tension to boiling point, along with an understated and interesting deep vocal. ‘Eleventh Hour’ and ‘Shoot You’ stand out again, along with tunes whose lyrics include: *checks notes* “…down down…” and “…don’t leave me here alone…”. There are a lot of people here, considering the band started as early as 7.15pm. Definitely ones to watch.
Fear Of Men are next, Silent Radio colleague Benjamin Forrester has these covered – they sound to me like a mix between tonight’s headliners, and The Smiths – female, Morrisey style vocals over surf pop, that’s not so sunny. Well… they are from London as opposed to LA.
Spectrals are third onstage, a guitarist is wearing an England shirt and there’s an England flag hung under the keyboard. Would they rather be watching the footy? They seem a little subdued. The lead singer is from Leeds but sounds like New York’s Hamilton Leithhauser of The Walkmen. They utilise a faster tempo than Leithhauser and Co, which in effect strips away the cool edge and leaves not much else for me to get in to. It’s the keyboard players birthday, and he receives a good cheer. The band have plenty of fans present, so I guess I’m outnumbered.
After leaving us waiting for what seems like an age, Best Coast take their position in front of a large picture of a bear that’s hugging the state of California. Bethany Cosentino is a great watch, singing openly about relationships and feelings, and lightening the mood between songs with banter directed at guitarist Bob, who deserves a moment in the spotlight.
“His t-shirt says Killer Weed”. References to getting stoned may be lost on most of the audience, parents are here with their young teenagers, there are plenty of older couples, and large groups of student girls are huddled under the singers nose. I guess this is what pop fame brings.
‘Why I Cry’, ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Let’s Go Home’ from second album ‘The Only Place’ impressively start the party and the foot stomping after a few “slow jams”, but the highlights come from the superb debut album. ‘Crazy For You’ is eventful, the mirrorball is put to use, there’s clapping and Beth’s microphone cuts out leaving the audience to fill the gaps. Her voice, when the mic is working properly, is outstanding. VERY loud, as clear as a bell and pitch perfect. Her stripy legs are mesmerising as her knees sway from left to right beneath her guitar.
Live, they’re more Grunge than on record. ‘Goodbye’ edges a little towards Nirvana. The best is saved for the encore; ‘I Want To’ and ‘When I’m With You’ bring us to the obvious crowd favourite ‘Boyfriend’, which recieves 110% effort from the band, who have been desperately trying to milk some atmosphere out of this crowd all night, with gradual success.
The punters were more up for it when I saw Best Coast (along with Silent Radio’s Denise Tench) at Club Academy last Spring, adding weight to the theory that the first album is more successful than the second. People invaded the stage and they loved it. I’m hoping for an angrier and louder third album.