At Best Coast’s show on Saturday evening at Oakland’s Fox Theater, it was clear that most of the audience was already well familiar with the band’s successful 2010 debut album, Crazy For You.
Unclear, however, was how the new album released this month would play out on stage. A lot has been said about Best Coast’s sophomore album, The Only Place. Some believe that it is a transitional album for the band, a step into a crisper, more experienced, grown-up phase of relevance for Best Coast. After all, front woman and songwriter Bethany Cosentino and lead guitarist Bobb Bruno recorded the new album at Capitol Studios with Jon Brion, the composer and record producer who has worked with industry greats like Kanye West and Fiona Apple. Others feel that The Only Place lacks the authenticity of Crazy For You, the lo-fi album with diary-like lyrics on young heartbreak, adolescent loneliness, and a Valley girl’s big love for weed and cats. Did Best Coast sell out?
Signs point to the former assertion, especially considering Cosentino’s own statement in an interview with Pitchfork, that “this album is really personal — much more personal than Crazy For You.” The Only Place also showcases Cosentino’s beautiful vocals, something that the debut album’s “Our Deal” gave us a peek of, but which some track’s scuzzy oooh-ahh’s left to be desired. Cosentino’s lovely voice shined through at the Fox Theater in Oakland on Saturday, proving that the vocals on the album were not, as some have claimed, overly produced.
Cosentino, Bruno, and their band including the newly added bassist Brett Mielke, walked onstage at the Fox to a cheerful, anticipating audience. Cosentino dressed in a typical, lovely vintage-inspired indie getup, talked to the audience throughout the show in her humble, personable nature. With the big spotlight shining directly on her, she was clearly the front woman and the intended focal point of the show. The band proceeded to play “Honey” from the first album, followed by a mix of songs from both records. The band’s energy was mellow, but their performance was genuinely captivating, and held a magnetic sort of “be yourself” aura. Saturday’s show was a short set, only about an hour and fifteen minutes long. Considering that Best Coast’s entire discography clocks in just short of two hours, this set was plenty long.
A highlight of the evening was the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Storm”, where Cosentino’s lovely vocals boomed in a way that would make Stevie Nicks smile, and Bruno’s guitar showed a darker side to his usual California breeze. Also in the encore, which Cosentino earnestly reminded us would be five more songs, were hits “Sun Was High (So Was I)”, “When I’m With You”, and the single “Boyfriend”, which closed the band’s set for the night.