Much like the band’s latest album, The Only Place, Best Coast’s performance last night at Grand Central was slick, poppy, and likable, but not earth-shattering or mind-blowing. It’s about what you’d expect from the L.A. band. Its frontwoman, Bethany Cosentino, has always traded in a similar persona — a sort of cheerful, slacker-ish everywoman who can churn out happy, hooky songs. She brought these songs in full force, with nary a trace of the stoner laziness you might expect based on her music-blog mythology.
In fact, Cosentino’s pitch-perfect singing and playing was so free of any mistakes or unexpected variations or changes, it almost felt a little too practiced for a rock and roll band. Her stage patter, even was generically polite and cheerful. When she did talk, there were the usual compliments to the host city. “We’re taking our virginity of Miami, and it feels so good!” She yelled early on. Later on: “You guys are the Best Coast of the East Coast!” Yes, this was charming, but also predictable.
With only two full-length albums to draw from, Cosentino managed to squeeze nearly all of their songs into a set spanning an hour and 45 minutes. To her credit, she charged through her biggest hit, “Crazy For You,” first, when most other acts would have saved that sort of song for the expected encore. The rest were similarly midtempo, major-key numbers of the kind that are fun to sing along in the car, from older fan favorites like “Summer Mood” to new material, like The Only Place‘s title track.
Played all in one chunk, these mostly ran together, except during a brief slower passage in the middle comprising two songs from the new album, “No One Like You” and “How They Want You To Be.” These came off as reverb-heavy, dreamy slow-dance numbers from an early-’60s prom, complete with couples slow-dancing and making out in dark corners of the venue.
Openers Those Darlins were similarly chirpy and inoffensive. The coed Nashville group comes off sonically like a twangier version of acts like the Donnas, with a sort of power-pop sensibility spiced up with Loretta Lynn flare. Unfortunately, though, the band never fully bared any kind of rollicking country teeth last night, which was disappointing.
If you stopped paying close attention to either band, it was easy to lose track of when one bouncy, melodic song ended, and the next began. But overall, pleasant vibes ruled, with even Grand Central’s air conditioning helping to create a room full of happy, comfortable fans. Many times, this is more than enough for a nice night out.
All photos by Valyn Calhoun:
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