Live Review: Best Coast with Bully at Showbox at the Market 6/4/15

Live Reviews
Geran Landen
all photos by Alan Lawrence (view set)

Last Thursday, Best Coast blasted the Showbox with that effortless cool and garage aesthetic that they have championed throughout the years, giving the audience the best of both worlds. With their latest album, California Nights, the California band marks their third release, but first on a major label. Each previous project (including the EP Fade Away) showed the band making slight sonic shifts. Crazy For You earned them praise as lo-fi royalty. The Only Place showed a tamer, subdued group while Fade Away found the band going back to its re-verb roots. California Nights, though, finds Best Coast rising to new heights, while polishing their sound, which they had been evolving since their conception as a lo-fi duo. Last week, reflecting these added dimensions by performing a solid set as a 5-piece.To start their opening set, front-woman Alicia Bognanno of Bully told the Showbox audience that her favorite city was Seattle. Though it seemed like the classic kiss-up-to-the-audience routine, as she and the rest of her band proceeded to rip through a set of cool, effortless garage rock reminiscent of the Seattle scene in the 90's, the statement became a lot more believable. The Nashville band's charmingly raw style was displayed through both their music and their awkward stage banter. Alicia Bognanno began to address the crowd only to stop mid-sentence and launch into another song several times throughout the night. And while her stage banter may not have been the most impressive, her songwriting showed a certain elegance with words and story telling that paired well with the band's grungy aesthetic. The group gave off the same kind of cool slacker vibe that Best Coast often emanates and they were a great pick for an opener. Based on what Bully showed the Showbox on Thursday combined with Alicia's willingness to write catchy melodies - and occasionally scream them - their upcoming debut album may very well make Bully Seattle's favorite band.


The influence of shoegaze, doo-wop and even traces of psych rock were all found in Best Coast's set on Thursday. Although the band is sometimes billed as a one-trick-pony, the laundry list of variations in style present in Best Coast's set sure said otherwise. That's not to say their accused one-trick wasn't present or enjoyed either. Based on the album and the appearance of a full band on stage, it seemed like Best Coast would come out with a much cleaner sound. But somehow Bethany Consentino and crew managed to implement their new-found sonic depth and layers and blast the Showbox with it in that simple, sloppy, lo-fi style that Best Coast is known for. The simplicity of the structure an lyrics found in Bests Coast's music was mirrored by the live set; Bethany Consentino addressed the crowd mainly in the form of thank you's and followed the song "Fading Fast" seemingly unintentionally by "Fade Away." But this sort of simplicity and repetitiveness in their songwriting has always been a part of Best Coast's successful formula. What would "Boyfriend" be without the simple structure and repeated line "I wish he was my boyfriend?" Probably not a track most sing along fondly to. This is why the presence of a five piece and the added layers of sound (and even vocal harmonies) in their live show on Thursday was so exciting. It gave that simplicity a stronger backbone, and gave the formula of Best Coast a breath of fresh air. Best Coast has always been able to make the mundane appealing. And the expanding elements in their live show and album seems to have prevented their appealing music from ever becoming mundane.

Best Coast:

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