Put flatly, COIN revels in its own noise.
Their albums, once curated constructions, became a hurricane of strobing spotlights and a mashing of keyboard keys — a combination that felt emphatic in its youthfulness. For the teenagers on The Fillmore floor on Saturday night, being there was to watch COIN play out their adolescent lives onstage.
Backlit band members emerged, their silhouettes flickering into existence to a cliched soundscape that was the stuff of adolescence — low electric strumming, a thudding heartbeat kick drum, screams.
With megaphone quality, lead singer Chase Lawrence crooned out the first stanza in “Growing Pains” — “I’m young and I’m dumb / I’ll live and I’ll learn” — illuminated suddenly in electric blue. Awash with refracted light from the stage, the audience stood mesmerized but never still, eagerly expressing their approval to the swaying beats and relatable lyrics.
Swimming in an choreography of ever-changing spotlights, the band performed other songs, often concretely linked to the experiences of growing up — “Boyfriend,” “I Don’t Wanna Dance,” “Talk Too Much” and “Run.” In no particular order, Lawrence acted as tour guide through songs that ran the gauntlet of young experience — from recklessness borne from invincible feelings to awkward attempts to find love on a metaphorical dance floor.
Every song was played up. Lawrence’s keyboard acted as an easy crutch in the aim to amp up any of the band’s wishy-washy, more new wave tunes. Every song, barring “Malibu 1992,” was restructured to fit the design for a noisy night — one that allowed its architect the ceaseless opportunity to flaunt his flop of blonde curls to the now-headbanger repertoire. If anything, Lawrence understands the best recipe for a crazed set is one simultaneously hard to pin down but that underwrites itself with redundancy.
Boiling the relatively short show down to its core elements leaves a list lackluster in maturity. There was the moment where Lawrence stood on the raised hands of a few front-row concert-goers. There was the Clark Kent-like bassist Zachary Dyke, with his unduly performative rock-and-roll stoicism — which he held even while Chase and the audience laboriously sung “Malibu 1992” together. There was the raging encore of “Feeling.”
And of course, there was Lawrence’s tired, preteen banter — “San Francisco, you’re real” was followed by “Last year we released How Will You Know If You Never Try, so here we are, trying. Thank you for making this real” and “I have a crush on you too, San Francisco.”
Perhaps this all appears as though the audience felt short-changed. Showy gimmicks, inarticulateness and black denim jackets decorated with too many rivets may not sound alluring to those out of the years of discovering body odor and fleetingly attempting love with braces. But for the members of COIN, there is no need to cater to anyone else — whether or not they intended to attract a teenybopper audience, they did. And for that audience, their schtick works.
Genres that sell hard to one audience with a train-schedule consistency are often scorned — where is the artistry, you might ask.
Bluntly, there is little artistry. Though COIN is the name, change isn’t the game.
COIN is not a hallmark of instrumental innovation, nor is the band nearly as lyrically adept as many who’ve played the historic Fillmore stage. But the band’s presence filled the theater floor and balcony — a feat not all past headliners have accomplished. More impressively, COIN lived up to the expectations of its audience by providing a show that was equal parts relatable and energetic.
COIN’s set is like tossing a quarter into the jukebox of teen experiences — you never know exactly what you’re going to get, but you know precisely what vein it’ll be in.