October 29th is an interesting date to have any kind of concert. You always get an unusual crowd; your normal concert-goers peppered with a few brave people who are already wearing their Halloween costumes. This was the scene at Friday’s Best Coast show at Vancouver’s Cobalt bar, albeit with a lot less costumes and lot more scenesters (unless everyone was dressed as a sullen hipster for Halloween).
The Cobalt used to be a lot different. Years ago it was classified as Vancouver’s “Metal Bar” and had all the rough and tumble decor, eclectic patrons and “anything goes” atmosphere that a metal bar should have. But it died, as so many good venues do in the city, and was recently resurrected with a more modern slant. It’s not just the bar that’s gotten a sleek makeover – the crowd has too. That’s not neccesarily a bad thing, but the “too-cool” attitude is a bit of a turn-off, especially when you have the knowledge of what it used to be like. Give me crazy metal-heads any day.
Luckily, we had Best Coast there to warm over the chilly crowd and bring some lighthearted reverb-laden pop rock to the mix. I mean really, how can you be sullen when you’ve got a singer as witty and cute as Bethany Cosentino, joking with the crowd and winning them over with her breezy, retro-tinged personality?
It also probably helped that Cosentino was in a stoner’s paradise. That’s some instant bonding between the audience and the band right there.
The interesting thing about Best Coast though is that live, they don’t sound as out of place as you would think, given they were playing in a dark bar on a cold Autumn night. With songs such as “Sun Was High” and “When I’m With You”, her echoing, sunny vocals that are present on the album become stronger and edgier on stage.
There is still an overall effect of California casual going on but Cosentino manages to contort her songs to fit the mood. Songs like “Boyfriend” were reflectively sung through melancholy whispers. Sometimes her guitar was bit harder sounding, sometimes the riff was twisted in a moody, psychedelic tone that conjured contrasting emotions and seasons. Turning summer into fall is no small feat and a great advantage for a band who wants to be known for more than just catchy beach pop.
The band started playing a lot later than they should have, going on after touring partners Sonny & the Sunsets who had a similar “Beach Blanket Bingo” sound, but they definitely kept the crowd moving and shaking into the wee hours of the night. Yes, the songs are short, but they are sweet and Cosentino’s coy banter kept everyone in a good mood. And if you’re going to a Best Coast show, that’s probably what you’re looking for. Mission accomplished.