Best Coast Live Review
Written by Ned Tilbrook on March 3, 2020
FFO: Cults, Alvvays, Wavves, Dum Dum Girls
On Monday evening that most Californian of California bands, Best Coast, delivered what singer and guitarist Bethany Cosentino revealed was the band’s first Portland show in five years to a delighted Wonder Ballroom in support of their new album Always Tomorrow.
To open proceedings Philadelphia band Mannequin Pussy took to the stage to grind out wave upon wave of punkish goodness. With the all ages section in particular a sea of banging heads singer Marisa Dabice pointed the venue’s disco ball out between songs, and suddenly it was glittering away during a downtempo number. The riotously fun set ended with an invitation to scream along to the last song, which members of the audience did with gusto.
When Best Coast began their set both Cosentino and bandmate Bobb Bruno had their long hair flowing behind them, with the stage lit by a giant neon Always Tomorrow sign and purple stage lights – the overall effect was to have the band appear as if they were literally on the cover of their newest album while on stage. It was a striking scene, and songs from the new album, such as ‘Master of My Own Mind’ and ‘For The First Time’ were rapturously met. Having myself come fairly late to the Best Coast party, one of the things that strikes me about their music is how, despite their sound subtly shifting over time, any Best Coast song is instantly recognizable as such. Perhaps it is Cosentino’s vocals, or her lyrical honesty, or perhaps that unique blend of surf, indie, and pop sounds with a hint of the very essence of California thrown in for good measure. Whatever it is makes for a live show in which every song, be they from the first album or most recent, is sure to get fans excited and dancing.
In between songs, Cosentino delivered messages of thanks and hope to her fans – thanking them for lifting her up when she needed it, and telling them that it’s alright to fuck things up. She opened up about feeling self-conscious and nervous, saying she was glad the audience liked the set (implying she was worried they wouldn’t). That vulnerability is certainly part of Cosentino and Best Coast’s appeal, combined with the fact that both her and Bruno never feel anything less than entirely genuine when performing.
After a brief break, Cosentino came back on stage to start the encore. She reminded people of Super Tuesday and to vote, thanked the fans again, and then the encore was on. Bruno and the three touring members of the band joined her; she told the audience that they were going to play ‘songs you wanted to hear tonight but haven’t yet.’ Sure enough, they finished on the hit ‘Boyfriend’ from their debut album Crazy for You and a large Monday evening crowd went home abuzz with excitement. Cosentino promised on stage that it wouldn’t be another five years before Best Coast are back in Portland – let’s certainly hope that’s the case!
Best Coast’s latest album, Always Tomorrow, is out now on Concord Music. They’re also on tour right now.
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- Ned (Real Soon in Rose City)