Tonight, playing as part of Liverpool Music Week, Best Coast take to the stage to rapturous applause and kick off with the 100mph blast of ‘Heaven Sent’ from this year’s excellent third LP California Nights. It perfectly showcases their new found, beefier sound, ending with a big wall of noise that becomes ‘The Only Place’, almost unrecognisable with the guitars ramped up. Where their second album was a bit of a rush-released misstep, throwing this in as the second song feels like a way of reclaiming it, something that is also reflected in the suite of the dreamier, slower material played later in the set.
It’s probably fair to say that most people are here for the pop punk joys of California Nights and the sugar-coated sadness of their debut, so ‘Fine Without You’, clapalong favourite ‘Crazy For You’, ‘Goodbye’ and an enormous sounding ‘So Unaware’ go down an absolute treat. Beth Cosentino has the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand as the song builds towards a huge ending, dragged out into the spacey, ambient intro to ‘California Nights’. The lyrics might still be about getting high but musically they’ve grown out of their old stoner jangle.
Everything sounds so much more fleshed out since California Nights. Bobb Bruno attacks his guitar, turning the outro of ‘When I’m With You’ into a monster. Even the selection of ballads where Beth switches her guitar for a tambourine and the slow-mo swoon of ‘Do You Love Me Like You Used To’ and ‘Dreaming My Life Away’ have the crowd loudly professing their love for them. ‘Fading Fast’ is the most pop song they’ve ever done, almost Motown-esque in the swing of the drums.
Beth is quick to reassure an enthusiastic punter yelling for ‘Boyfriend’ that they will play it because they know there’s no way they could get away with not doing it. Even if that early single is still a fan favourite, there’s no question that California Nights is a record absolutely packed with highlights: ‘In My Eyes’ could be prime Ash material, and ‘Feeling OK’ has Bobb shaking his mane to the power chords of the bridge. The feeling of goodwill towards the band means that it doesn’t matter if Beth’s struggling with the high notes of ‘Our Deal’. It’s also reciprocated when she says how sad the band are to hear this is to be one of the last gigs at the legendary Kazimier.
The main set is brought to a close with the old surfy feel. Even if they dispense with the backing “sha-la-la”s of ‘Jealousy’‘s chorus, the organ-assisted ‘When Will I Change’ builds up to an all-out guitar assault. The band leave the stage for the briefest of minutes to power through ‘Bratty B’ and, of course, ‘Boyfriend’. Best Coast are on absolutely top form, shining a healthy dose of California sunshine, strong enough to leave us baffled by the Liverpool rain outside.
Click HERE to find out more about Liverpool Music Week 2015.
Photo credit: Andy Von Pip