show review

​Best Coast @ Beachland Ballroom 9/17/2015

Lisa Sanchez
                                                                                   (Sanchez/2015)
There was already a line formed when the doors opened at Beachland Ballroom and fans rushed into the spacious venue to see female-fronted, California-bred duo Best Coast. Beachland Ballroom is a beautiful space and evoked the sense of classic charm that Best Coast also brings across in their dreamy coastal tunes. 

The crowd is diverse, from high school girls (I got all the details on senior pictures and lunch period while waiting to take photos) to 30 and 40 year old couples. It's refreshing to see that at least half of the crowd are women although it may be expected for a band who has one of the most magnetic female figureheads in alternative music. 

The Lovely Bad Things were the first and only openers for the event and they played an enticing blend of dual vocal surf rock. The band, especially guitarist/vocalist Lauren Curtius, just seemed thrilled to be sharing the stage with fellow California rockers Best Coast and excitedly thanked the crowd for coming early, bobbing their heads, and breaking out into spontaneous dance. 

The Beachland Ballroom had over a hundred people waiting for the headliner to go on, but the crowd atmosphere remained mellow and the standing room area wasn't wall-to-wall, so I was able to saunter up to the front of the stage to take photos and rub elbows with some delighted 17-year-old fans while admiring Bethany Cosentino's microphone stand, which was covered top to bottom in octagonal rhinestones.

Guitarist Bobb Bruno first came onto the stage with all of his hair and silent fretting glory immediately followed by the vivacious vocalist/guitarist Bethany Cosentino. I noticed the band had more than a dozen sound pedals hooked up for the show and I was excited to see where the night would take us. On album, Bruno and Cosentino are credited with playing all of the instrumentals (Bruno alone plays bass, drums, and guitar), but for their live show the duo are accompanied by three touring musicians that allow the depth of Best Coast's sound to come across as it was meant to; rich, tonal, and multifaceted.

Best Coast opened with poppy, 80s vibing "Heaven Sent" off of California Nights, the band's most recent album. About halfway through the song there is an abstract guitar piece that I never noticed in the song until Bruno played it live. He palmed the lower part of his guitar's fret board then plucked and muted the instrument more like a harp than a guitar. This was just one small way seeing Best Coast live pays off; you see the intricacy that the band has put into their songs and how weird and enthralling it is to see the artists play it live.

Understandably, most of the band's set included material from California Nights, including "Fine Without You", "California Nights", "So Unaware", "Sleep Won't Ever Come" and "Feeling OK" which the band currently has a video for. Cosentino's talent as a singer isn't an illusion of mixing and production, the woman can seriously belt it out. During "I Don't Know How" and "Fade Away" the singer took special care to add more emphasis on certain vocal accents and was truly soulful in her delivery. Throughout the show Cosentino remained emotive and fully committed to her vocal delivery even though half the time she was also playing guitar. 

The band played an hour-long set to the delight of the audience. There was very little stage banter (considering one half of the band is essentially a silent partner) other than Cosentino commenting on the weed aroma wafting up about halfway through the show and commenting, "I don't sleep and that's what this song is about" when she introduced "Sleep Won't Every Come." 

In my mind, the lack of interaction aligns with the band's minimalist aesthetic and mysterious quality. Despite the band's tight-lipped nature, Best Coast have real star presence and Cosentino is right in the center of it. Considering the band's wide-ranging appeal and accessibility to fans of all ages and genders, I imagine it will be no time before Best Coast moves on to playing sold out halls and amphitheaters.

Although Best Coast mostly featured songs from California Nights, the band came back for their encore and played a sped-up version of "Boyfriend" a longing song that sounds like it came straight from the mind of a 60's girl band. It was a great note to end on and Best Coast exited the stage, hopefully planning to come back to Ohio on their next tour. 

Best Coast will complete their U.S. tour by the end up September, then the band will be touring overseas throughout October and November.