Best Coast released its debut album, Crazy For You, in 2010. Yet when the band performed its best-known hits from the album at its sold-out Cornerstone Craft Beer & Live Music show on Monday night, it was as though no time had passed.
In the last seven years, Best Coast has released three more albums: 2012’s The Only Place, 2013’s Fade Away and 2015’s California Nights. And while the majority of its 19-track set list was composed of songs off of California Nights, the crowd was far more privy to the six tracks played from Crazy for You, screaming and singing along to “Our Deal” and “I Want To” with an unparalleled vitality. Songs from California Nights received more polite head-nods and sways as the audience awaited the inevitable energy boost from a guitar solo by lead guitarist Bobb Bruno or from the opening notes to an earlier, better-known song.
It’s remarkable how well Crazy For You has aged, somehow free of the posthumously mocked, trying-too-hard indie vibes that characterized most of 2010’s alternative rock scene. But blending into the contemporary music scene has never been Best Coast’s priority. The duo’s music is a beachy-rock celebration of love lost and love ungained, set to an upbeat tempo and utilizing simple chord structures. Best Coast’s latest album upholds these vibes while slowly edging into more psychedelic and ‘70s-inspired rock, best embodied by its titular song, “California Nights.”
Although the hits off Crazy For You received the loudest cheers and sing-alongs from the crowd, lead singer Bethany Cosentino implied a slight disgruntlement toward some of the band’s older music. “Here’s a song that I hate so much, but I know you guys love it, so I always sing it for you, because if I didn’t, you’d probably demand a refund. Do you know what it’s called?” Cosentino teasingly asked the audience during a pause. The crowd roared with cheers of “Boyfriend,” to which she deadpanned, “that’s the one.”
That’s not to say Cosentino was dismayed with the audience’s clear favorites. Right after “When I’m With You,” she expressed her gratitude for the audience’s energy. “That song came out so long ago,” she said, “and every time we play it, you guys are just the most amped.” Cosentino managed to stay positive despite a head cold, successfully preventing her delivery from sounding overtly nasally and thanking the fan who brought her decongestant.
Best Coast is currently touring with Paramore; the duo’s on-tour backing band is composed of Joe Bautista on keys and guitar, Brett Mielke on backing vocals and bass and a newcomer on drums.
Cosentino herself received a fair share of applause when she picked up her electric guitar for the first time on “California Nights,” though Bruno received unending cheers and screams for each and every one of his guitar solos. Many were additional, live concert “perks” nonexistent in the original tracks, adding a renewed sense of spontaneity to older songs. For the few songs in which Cosentino’s lyrics were muddled or indiscernible, Bruno’s solos would be powerful enough to redeem the tracks.
While fans, in general, tend to gravitate towards a solitary idolatry of bands’ lead vocalists, Bruno’s impressive technical mastery of his guitar received as much applause and was as frequently captured on Snapchat as Cosentino was when she held a prolonged high note — indicating an equal respect among fans for the duo’s respective skills.
Best Coast ended its set with “When Will I Change” off the band’s latest album, a strange choice to follow best-known classics “Our Deal” and “Boyfriend.” Maybe this winding-down of the audience’s energy was intentional, as Cosentino told the crowd beforehand she felt too congested for encores. Yet maybe it was part of a larger theme of the show: an unexpressed anxiety that no matter what music Best Coast produces in the future, it may never surpass Crazy For You in its fans’ eyes. Though possible, the duo need not worry — those 2010 tracks undeniably hold up.