Best Coast, Jeff the Brotherhood, Abe Vigoda
Better than: listening to The Only Place on a "My First Turntable" from Urban Outfitters.
Last night I was officially converted to a full-on Best Coast fan. Fronted by the magnanimous Bethany Cosentino, the band was back on their home turf, playing to a nearly sold-out crowd at the Wiltern. After having somewhat of a mixed reaction to her new album The Only Place -- which struggles from serious identity issues -- I was among the skeptics in the crowd.
Produced by Jon Brion, who backed up the band on several songs last night, The Only Place strays from the brash, lo-fi aesthetic of the Best Coast's early material, embracing a more touched-up, glossy feel that basically removes any sort of edge from the equation. In a live setting, however, they certainly made up for it, selling the new songs with a passion spearheaded by Cosentino's unrelenting stage presence.
Local indie band Abe Vigoda kicked off the show and Nashville garage-rockers Jeff the Brotherhood followed with a brief but explosive set that showed off the young Nashville natives' exciting potential. They took they stage around 9:30 with matching see-thru drums and guitar. They shied away from any stage banter and instead used their 30-minute set to expound upon jam-heavy material from their recent full-length and new Hypnotic Knights EP, which is set to be released next week.
Containing only two members, brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall, Jeff the Brotherhood shreds on stage with the power of a four-piece, drawing from classic rock influences and nouveau punk, including deceased fellow Tennessean Jay Reatard. Watching much of the audience singing along and clearly enjoying the set, it's worth noting that Jeff the Brotherhood and Hanni El Khatib seem to be taking the reigns from their garage-rock forebears Jack White and The Black Keys. The difference, it seems, is that the new generation has learned from the missteps of their elders, sticking to a formula that works rather than branching out in to gimmicky, overproduced territory, to the chagrin of a dedicated fanbase.
After pummeling their way through the heavier end of their catalog with songs like "Shredder" and "Ripper," Jeff the Brotherhood took a few minutes out for a couple down-tempo numbers and then immediately returned to the madness with their new single "Sixpack," released earlier this week. The two members complement each other incredibly well on stage. Jamin bashed away on the drums like a young Patrick Carney while Jake wandered about in a trance, channeling the distorted glory of early Black Sabbath on guitar.
An enormous album cover banner loomed over the stage in preparation for Best Coast. The band took the stage around 10:30, high-pitched screams erupting from the crowd like the red carpet of a Twilight premiere. They immediately garnered the affection of the crowd with the title track from their new album, which sings the praises of life in Southern California. Better still, Jon Brion joined them on stage a few minutes later, offering support on guitar for the new song "Last Year."
As a four-piece the band filled out the acoustics of the venue just fine, but with the addition of Brion, they sounded perfect. Guitarist Bobb Bruno's distorted riffs matched up nicely with Brion's elegant string arrangements on "Last Year" and "No One Like You," breathing new life in to songs that sound practically hollow on the album. This particular balance of the brash, distorted feel with respect to more evolved arrangements is the result I'd imagine Best Coast was initially aiming for on their new album; it clearly rises to the surface in a live setting.
Throughout the band's hour and a half set, Cosentino lured the audience with her ecstatic vocals, taking time out to thank the fans who started the "Fuck Yeah Best Coast" Tumblr fan-page and to dedicate the song "My Life" to her father. Best Coast's lyrics have always been confessional, but "My Life" lacks the superficiality of some of their other songs, offering a more honest glance at Cosentino's personal life and her relationship with her parents. Performed live, it feels all the more intimate, something Best Coast seems to be striving for more and more, as they highlighted their encore with a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Storm."
During the cover, the drummer left the stage and the house lights were turned off, leaving only Cosentino singing beautifully in the spotlight, clad in an elegant, white floral lace dress. With most of the balcony on their feet, it was certainly a special moment for the crowd, and it also showed off the enormous potential of Cosentino's vocal talent. After this brief, intimate moment, the band closed out with two fan favorites "When I'm With You" and "Boyfriend," offering up a nice extended guitar intro on the latter.
Even if you don't enjoy Best Coast's albums, this is the type of band I could see a lot of people discovering and sticking around for at a festival like Coachella or FYF. While they may remain pariahs in the indie scene for their commercial endorsements, there's no questioning Cosentino's talent as a vocalist or guitarist Bobb Bruno's exquisite abilities as a songwriter and performer. With such a fast-growing and passionate young fanbase, they really don't need the respect of their jaded 20-something peers at this point anyway.
Personal Bias: I'm instantly attracted to artists with a strong affinity for cats.
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The Crowd: Snapbacks and tank tops. What I would imagine a Skrillex concert to be like, sans glowsticks and ecstacy.
Random Notebook Dump: Kanye clearly got more out of his Jon Brion collaboration than Best Coast did.