Awkwardness and discomfort permeate low-energy Best Coast set at The Rave
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Since breaking through with 2010’s acclaimed Crazy For You, Los Angeles duo Best Coast have never left the spotlight completely, but they never quite turned into a household name. A follow-up, last year’s The Only Place, performed better than its predecessor, peaking at #24 on the Billboard charts, but some of the buzz seems to have faded. That may be because the band, comprised of Bobb Bruno, frontwoman Bethany Cosentino, and a rotating cast of touring musicians has one foot in two different worlds, splitting the difference between fuzzy, pot-smoking garage pop and a slicker, more radio friendly strain of breezy indie rock. It’s an uneasy combination, mixing credibility with commercialism, but it pays its fair share of musical dividends. Thursday’s performance at The Rave was no exception, despite the air of awkwardness and discomfort permeating the whole set.
A big part of the problem is that the show wasn’t all-ages, put on as it was by Bud Light as part of its confusing 50/50/1 concert event, which finds the beer brand sponsoring a show in every state on the same day. (Why this is at all exciting remains a mystery.) Keeping the kids out severely cut down the size of the crowd, even though plenty of free tickets were distributed to area bars and shops, leaving the room half-full and low on energy. The band members picked up on it, but not to the point that it shook their playing; in fact, they were tight and together through a set that jumped between comparatively raw Crazy For You material like “Honey” and “Goodbye,” the polish of The Only Place’s “Let’s Go Home,” and even some unreleased cuts from their upcoming EP.
The older selections, where Best Coast cut loose and roughed things up a bit, came off the best, but, some blandness aside, the new songs still display a keen pop instinct that’s difficult to dislike. Between tunes though, Cosentino lacks a certain charisma, which led to a lot of rambling banter that consistently circled back to The Rave’s supposed haunting and how she was glad it was 21+ so she could drink and talk about penises (two things you can most assuredly do at all-ages shows). It was mostly just goofy and off-the-cuff, but at times Cosentino seemed somewhat passive aggressive, personally chastising a group of listeners for chatting and vainly attempting to brush off the fact that some didn’t stick around for the encore. The turnout may have been disappointing and the enthusiasm restrained, but Best Coast could have brought a little more, too.