Getty Museum, LA, July 9th
In a hot southern California Saturday afternoon, a long line of cars waits bumper-to-bumper on the 405. Some passengers leave their vehicles, opting to walk alongside the freeway to their destination, while others honk their horns mercilessly. Cataclysmic traffic on this stretch of highway between Los Angeles and the Valley is the well-trodden material of the bad comedians here in the City of Angels. But tonight’s vehicular nightmare was spawned by a much less likely source: [a]Best Coast[/a].
The breezy lo-fi rockers are playing a free early afternoon show at the [b]Getty Museum[/b], that expansive white marble art repository overlooking the Pacific Ocean from a cliff like a palace perched atop Mount Olympus. Frontwoman [b]Bethany Cosentino[/b] saunters to the microphone, her grey sundress rippling in the cool breeze. Guitarist [b]Bobb Bruno[/b] begins conjuring the reverbed, surfy tones that made [a]Best Coast[/a] into an international name with their debut [b]‘Crazy For You’[/b].
The band launch into the beachy Wall Of Sound anthem [b]‘The End’[/b], but Cosentino soon begins mumbling her lyrics. “Sorry about that,” she says at the end of the song. “Just had a bit of a brain lapse there.” The audience, it would seem, couldn’t care less about mental malfunctions as they sway along to her lyrics about young love and incurable crushes. They clap along for the jangling pop of the album’s title track and cheer for the opening riff of the radio-friendly [b]‘Boyfriend’[/b]. During a stripped down version of [b]‘I Want To’[/b], Cosentino’s voice finally hits its stride, with an emboldened power born from [a]Best Coast[/a]’s exhaustive touring schedule.
With her trademark “ooohs” and pouty croons, Cosentino often has been pegged as a throwback to classic southern Californian girl bands of the ’60s. But her alternation between a slight twang and subtle gristle leans much more toward riot grrrls like L7 and even early Hole, with a bit of the classic country of June Carter Cash. On [b]‘When You Wake Up’[/b], from the split single with her boyfriend Nathan Williams’ band, Wavves, and new song [b]‘Gone Again’[/b], Cosentino explores the detached vocal style of ’90s grunge girls like Liz Phair, indicating a move towards classic lo-fi indie.
“It’s crazy to be here,” Cosentino tells the audience, her voice bouncing off the glistening marble halls of art, in a natural slap-back echo. Best Coast’s rapid ascension from Cosentino’s bedroom project to front-of-the-stoner-loopy-pack is crazy indeed. Just a year and a half earlier, she was just another SoCal stoner chick, strumming chords in the sleepy, hipster LA enclave of Eagle Rock. Today, she’s inciting traffic jams. As the sun dips behind the Pacific and the sky fades to a light pink, Best Coast churn out the final chords of the night, ending the set on top of the world.