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Fans of Best Coast were certainly not to be disappointed at the California-based band’s set at the Royale Boston last night. The show kicked off with two delightful openers: Diiv (a side project of Beach Fossils’ Z. Cole Smith) who treated the crowd to summery, lo-fi pop tunes off of their excellent debut album, Oshin, and Those Darlins who play fun, garage-rock style tunes. After those two performances, the anticipation for Best Coast was growing and fans in the jam-packed Royale screamed and cheered, waiting for frontwoman, Bethany Cosentino, and multi-instrumentalist, Bobb Bruno, to take the stage.
Best Coast were touring in support of their recently released sophomore record, The Only Place. I was lucky enough to sit down with Cosentino and Bruno before their show last night and learn a little bit more about how their new record came to fruition. The record is much cleaner and less distorted than their debut, Crazy For You, and Bruno shared that “their approach did not really change, but instead they got to record in a great studio with a great engineer,” and that “the record is still them and that their process didn’t really change at all.” However, he noted that “sonically there are a lot of improvements” and that they “focused more on Beth’s voice in the forefront and having less layered vocals and effects”. Bethany herself noted that the choice to showcase her voice was a conscious one as she’s become more confident in her singing abilities over the past two years and she really made an effort to take her vocals more seriously on the new record. In my opinion, this was a great choice as Cosentino does have such a stunning voice, one she certainly showcased last night. Even when the group played older songs that were recorded with a more lo-fi sound (such as “Something In The Way”, a Best Coast single released back in early 2010), Cosentino’s voice was booming and she sang with the panache of a true rising star.
The setlist was comprised of a nearly equal mix of tracks off of The Only Place and the group’s older, more-well known songs. Cosentino and Bruno were joined by a backing guitarist and drummer, and together the four of them sounded as tight as a well-oiled machine. Seeing them in a live setting really showed how talented they all are. Newer tracks that, in my opinion, sounded a little flat on the record (“Last Year”, “How They Want Me To Be”) were incredible live and to no one’s surprise, tracks from Crazy For You (“Summer Mood”, “Our Deal”) sounded just as great as they always do.
Cosentino and Bruno also spoke a bit about what it was like to work with legendary producer Jon Brion on the new record. The two already had a friendly relationship with Brion so that made it “less intimidating” for them, but as Cosentino put it, working with Brion was “really awesome.” She also noted that “that [Brion] made their record sound great and that they are happy that he chose to work with [them]”. They also shared their recording process and how a Best Coast record actually comes about. Cosentino told me that she “only writes at home, and doesn’t like writing in front of other people or with other people and tends to wait until she’s home and has the time to sit down and write.” She then sends those lyrics on to Bruno who collaborates with her songwriting and gives his input. Best Coast recently covered Fleetwood Mac’s “Storms” for a bonus 7” for The Only Place and I learned that the reason why Cosentino is so attracted to that band is because they worked in the same way that Best Coast works. Unfortunately, for fans she has not had the chance to write much lately due to their constant touring schedule (but she does hope to release “some kind of 7″ down the line”), here’s to hoping that comes to fruition sooner rather than later, because new Best Coast material is always a great thing!
Once Cosentino took the stage, it was apparent to me that this is what she is meant to do. Her presence is so captivating and enigmatic that it’s difficult to take your eyes off of her. At the same time, she somehow manages to appear extremely down to earth, despite all the success she has achieved in the past few years. One of the first things out of her mouth was the announcement that she ate a ton of California Pizza Kitchen for dinner and an apology to the front row in case she burped or threw up on them. It’s also amazing as to how much of a fashion icon she has become. Last night she looked adorable in thigh-high socks and a grey school-girl mini skirt, but I suppose that’s how it should be as she has recently collaborated with Urban Outfitters on her very own fashion line. She told me that “it was really exciting to do a fashion line as [she] got to imagine what [she’d] want to see other people in”. She also shared that she drew inspiration from outfits she’d personally wear but also from outfits that she’d see young girls at Best Coast shows wearing, and it’s these girls that inspire her when she’s writing and when she was designing the clothes for the clothing line. It was this nugget of information that was so fascinating to me because what girl does not draw fashion inspiration from other girls they see? Despite the fact that she’s a rock star, this made her seem like such a normal girl and that was very refreshing to see. Speaking of being down to earth, when I asked the band if they had any favorite pastimes, the two of them simultaneously answered “watching TV”. They also love online shopping.
Overall, Best Coast’s live show last night was incredible. They even had the Best Coast logo and The Only Place cover art projected behind them. Cosentino and Bruno also shared that they try to make their live show different than the way songs on their records sound in order to keep things interesting for their fans, something that I believe they definitely achieved in the best way possible last night. Highlights from the show included the title track from the new record, “Sun Was High (And So Was I)” and set-closer “Boyfriend”, which I’m pretty sure is the personal anthem of every single girl (and probably some of the guys) in attendance last night. If you have a chance to catch Best Coast on tour, I highly recommend it. You can also grab their new record, The Only Place, which is out now.