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Review: Best Coast and Wavves at The Paradise in Boston, MA

February 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Concert Reviews, Daily Music News

Best Coast and Wavves
The Paradise
Boston, MA
February 4, 2011

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 


Reviewed by:  Dorise Gruber

It was a pre-Valentine’s love-fest at the Paradise on Friday night, thanks to California surf-pop co-headliners Wavves and Best Coast (whose frontman and frontwoman, Nathan Williams and Bethany Cosentino respectively, just happen to also be dating). Show opener No Joy sounded like a grunge-tinged Sonic Youth, and the starring females looked like female Kurt-Cobain-meets-Cousin-It’s.  Though a little monotone in their range, it was a pretty good indicator of how the rest of the night was going to run – a lot of reverb and a lot of floppy hair.

Bubblegum ballads and echoed “ooh oohs” created a spring break atmosphere despite our subzero New England temps.  Even the airy banner for the show, hand-painted with stars, peace signs, and a seriffed font of splashing whale-tails, was only missing blacklight sensitivity and a lava lamp to complement the carefree stoner college-dorm-room vibe.  The Wavves set was incredibly strong, and the moment they hit the stage, beach balls started flying.  While the boys up front rocked out with high-energy headbangs, fuzzed vocals, and calculated angst, the drummer was the understated hero of this trio – his beats were smooth, tight, and he nailed his transitions to a tee.  At one point early in the set, though, the drummer uncharacteristically flubbed some intro notes, so Williams jokingly apologized on his behalf.  Williams then coerced the drummer to tip the audience for the error, so after digging around in his pocket for some cash, he passed the money to Williams, who then handed it out to an audience member.  If that’s the punishment for imperfection, no wonder he’s so good!

Shortly after the Wavves set, the dark stage got lit up in blue, and 2Pac’s “California Love” blasted fittingly while Best Coast filed onstage, riling up the crowd.  It’s at this point that I would love to say that the show was every bit as wonderful as the Crazy For You album, which was one of my top five albums in 2010.  Cosentino has a silky voice, and while her lyrics are grossly uncomplicated, she writes breezy pop songs that are impossibly catchy yet pleasantly interesting to ingest.  Unfortunately, however, for a band that’s been struggling with the flu bug, the vocals were a little flat, overly breathy, and weirdly slowed, the drumming was sloppy, and it took about halfway through the set before they hit their stride.  This isn’t to say that the band isn’t capable of putting on a good live show, as just a few days prior they put on a solid performance on Letterman, but I think even at full-health I really prefer the crafted lo-fi quality in their recordings – they sound sweeter and more ethereal on record, while the raspy live show begs for the seductively eerie harmonies and the deep bass-lines on the album.  I will say, though, that for being sick, Cosentino still put on a pretty energetic performance, and with that adorable mug I’m sure every fanboy in the crowd was still wishing she was singing her hit “Boyfriend” just to him.

Speaking of which, the crowd skewed male, and often of frat-boy persuasion – surprisingly since Best Coast’s music is an arsenal of forlorn chick-anthems, but I suppose unsurprisingly because Cosentino is indeed such a gorgeous lass.  Normally I prefer crowds at the Paradise to many other concert crowds, but at this one not only did an enormous nearby college student topple over and nearly take me down with him, but I also had a random guy ask to write something in my notepad, and after asking my name, he left me this nugget of wisdom: “Dorise, don’t do cocaine in the men’s room.”  I think the universe has sent me a pretty clear message – I enjoy both Wavves and Best Coast, but next time they roll into town together, I’m staying home and blasting their albums instead.  You know, lest I be lured by the siren song of the wrong lavatory.


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