The thrust of artificial wind, also known as air conditioning, sweeps across the stage at the Paradise Rock Club. Her long brown hair flutters, as the ripple of black silk moves from side to side; a slightly sexy homage to femininity: the little black dress takes on a new light as the little black skirt. Her black boots click against the ground, and the elastine of a white crop top hugs the back of her guitar, while she tugs and tweaks at its strings.
“I’m not trying to have a Marilyn moment, but it’s so hot in here”, says Bethany Cosentino, frontwoman of California-born and -bred guitar-rock group, Best Coast. She pulls down on her skirt, which she’s been fighting all night, and finally addresses the audience for the first time. “I just want to touch all of you,” she says.
Finally the ice is broken.
A slightly awkward beginning forced concertgoers into a kind of a stiff shimmy, as Cosentino opened up her set sort of in a daze, definitely in her own world, and working hard not to look up. But then a slow, meditative sense of sincerity washed over the group — something finally clicked, and then everyone hit the ground running. The mood lifted, and the party started: bottles of Angry Orchard, glasses of gin and tonics, and several varying — equally embarrassing — sweaty dance moves included.
The inside of the venue is bare. There is no special lighting. No, theatrical set up. Just Cosentino, guitarist Bobb Bruno and their band. But, apparently that’s all they need. And Boston surfaces in mass numbers to watch the group’s sold-out show, for a bit of that laid-back California vibe in a region that has embraced springtime after a hellish (and historic) winter.
Contrary to the uber girly, existential hang ups of Best Coast’s more famous lyrics, a throng of heterosexual men in “bro-groups” appeared to be the largest demographic of attendees a la Friday night. Bizarre. It got even more so when a fight broke out — not very California chill — sometime between Best Coast’s opening song, “The Only Place,” and few more in, “Fine Without You.” Maybe it was the symptom of an off-kilter girls to boys ratio. Maybe it was boys in a metamorphic kind of heat, or maybe it was our favorite leading lady’s killer legs and sumptuous vocals.
Cosentino and co. rifled through a slew of old material and newer stuff off May’s California Nights LP, all while managing to stay true to their longest fans; renditions of “When I’m With You,” “Crazy for You,” and “The End” are just a handful of songs that sent nostalgic hearts soaring.
Guitar riffs bent and slid into crisp melodies, that ultimately fell into moments of low fidelity. Best Coast’s playful, sometimes lackadaisical mantras offered its audience the perfect Friday night respite from the dirges of a long work week.
There’s just something in the way… something in the way… something in the way…
… Best Coast effect their California ways over the whole country. Their sound might be straightforward, but their message manages to transcend their regional subject matter—and the sun shines a little brighter when they make it to your town.