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Let’s kick this bad boy off with a bold statement: Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast is the Jennifer Lawrence of front women. I realize this could potentially be a confusing proclamation for those who have somehow missed the J-Law craze that has swept our nation (see: Vice’s article titled “What Do Hate Groups Think Of Jennifer Lawrence?”), but there’s no way around it. Jennifer Lawrence is known for her sharp tongue, lack of filter, and down-to-earth attitude despite her sudden fame– all qualities found in Cosentino, too, particularly considering the unexpected recognition Best Coast garnered for Crazy for You. Anyone who’s seen Best Coast live can’t disagree; after all, the catalyst for my brilliant conclusion was their set at the Royale last night, where the audience got to experience the careless, unapologetic, and hilarious vocalist. Cosentino and the other half of Best Coast, Bobb Bruno, brought a little band and their lo-fi, surf sound to Boston just in time for the summer weather, playing to a modest, young crowd awash in sundresses and floral prints.
I had always been curious about Cosentino’s personality and on-stage presence since I discovered 2010’s Crazy for You, an album that is wildly angsty in its lyrics while maintaining poppy, simple, and addictive melodies. It was an album I listened to on my roommate’s record player as I lay on the floor of our dorm room my freshman year of college, too melodramatic for my own good, thinking, Ugh, Best Coast GETS me! Costentino’s lyrics told stories that sounded familiar, like they were being told by any of my friends: talking about relationships gone south, unrequited love, occasional (regular) drug use, etc.
I suppose that would explain the atmosphere of familiarity that filled the Royale as Cosentino, Bruno, and company took the stage, opening their set with “Goodbye” from Crazy for You. It’s a typical Best Coast song: under three minutes, low fidelity, the same underlying guitar riff that somehow permeates all of Best Coast’s tracks, and Cosentino’s conflicted emotions told in simple lyrics, “Every time you leave this house/everything falls apart,” and “Well, I don’t love you/but I don’t hate you/I don’t know how to feel.” She isn’t afraid to be herself in front of the audiences, like another little starlet that has become so beloved, and it definitely adds to her likability. Also, despite the depressing (albeit relatable) content of her songs, the fun sound brought the bopping audience together in a sort of camaraderie. That is the magic of Best Coast. For all the flack they get about their simplistic and repetitive songs, Best Coast is so easy to listen to and even easier to relate to.
Following “Goodbye,” were several more songs from Crazy for You. The next track was “Crazy for You,” another fun little ditty about a paradoxical relationship where you sort of want to kill your love interest but would also be rendered useless without him or her. Best Coast then launched into “The End,” Cosentino crooning, “You say that/we’re just friends/but I want this/’til the end,” a song focusing on the frustration that comes with a love interest not being receptive, and then “Summer Mood,” which, essentially, is about the same narrative, but set specifically in the summertime. To be frank, most of Best Coast’s music revolves around the same theme, but there is enough of a subtle variance in the tracks to differentiate and stop the records from becoming too repetitive. Stand out songs included “Our Deal,” one of the bigger hits from Crazy for You, along with “I Want To,” as well as “The Only Place,” the first single off of 2012’s The Only Place.
Best Coast also played two new tracks, “Fear of My Identity” and “What Have I Become,” the latter serving as one of the most energetic performances of the night. For the most part, the show didn’t feel so much like a show as it did a party, hanging out with friends and just listening to music. This is most likely due to Best Coast’s refusal to deviate from the studio versions of their song; their performance was spot-on and Cosentino’s vocals were pitch-perfect, which is impressive considering the amount of belting in her songs, but there were no risks. Best Coast played it safe with their performance; it just felt like listening to their albums. It worked in their favor, as the audience seemed thrilled to just hear their favorite songs the same way they sounded on the record, but perhaps some experimentation could have enhanced the Best Coast concert experience.
The Best Coast signature on the show was undoubtedly Cosentino’s flippant attitude on stage. She was casual and natural, and, to be blunt, a little weirdo (à la the aforementioned Miss Jennifer Lawrence). She interacted freely with the audience, signaling out fans for dancing, pointing at a boy toward the front and screaming, “You’re the tightest of the tight, I love you!” Later in the night, a persistent fan in the crowd finally caught her attention, and upon finding out it was his 23rd birthday, she invited him (Mick) onto the stage to take shots of whiskey with her and the band in order to celebrate. The show was packed with a lot of back-and-forth and her pretension-free demeanor allowed for it to be a genuinely enjoyable music experience.
Also among the songs played that night were some tracks from the 7”s, including “Sun Was High (So Was I),” after fans continued to shout requests for it, along with “Something in the Way.” Best Coast reached across all their releases to play a variety of songs from their catalogue. The encore included “Do You Love Me Like You Used To,” and the show ended with “Boyfriend,” with Costentino leaping into the eager arms of the audience, just the way your musician friend who gets a little too wild would at a party—the perfect conclusion for such a fun, refreshingly community-based show.