Dan Reilly There are thousands of artists in Austin for SXSW, and I'll be…
- Posted on Feb 3rd 2011 12:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
Jordi Vidal, Redferns
They won't have to change their stage patter very much over the next few weeks, as their tour winds through Canada and the Midwest on its way back to the Golden State. Luckily, their shivering isn't in vain: These indie-rock lovebirds are on a wintertime outreach mission, spreading "summeriness," as Cosentino put it, or musical Vitamin D, a supplement they deliver in their own unique ways.
First up was Wavves, a jagged pop-punk pill the Webster crowd was well-primed to swallow. Featuring Williams on guitar and vocals, former Jay Reatard sideman Stephen Pope on bass and relative newcomer Jacob Cooper on drums, the band played fast, grungy versions of songs from Wavves' three studio albums, blasting away the crisp lines that characterize those on the most recent, 'King of the Beach.'
Williams has a reputation for being something of a bad boy, and as he bashed out the suburban burn-out anthems 'To the Dregs,' 'Linus Spacehead' and 'So Bored,' pausing every so often to kick one of the beach balls or inflatable aliens he'd released into the audience at the top of the set, he could scarcely contain his smirk. At this point, holding his performances together is probably the snottiest, most punk-rock thing he can do, and his professionalism felt like an act of subversion, a middle finger to the naysayers. He's a cartoon cat that, having eaten the family bird, refuses to burp out a telltale feather, even if he does burp onstage.
Closing the show, Cosentino and her bandmates -- lead guitarist Bob Brunno and former Vivian Girls drummer Ali Koehler -- went the opposite route, presenting their songs as cleanly and directly as possible. Gone were the sweet harmonies of 'Crazy for You,' Best Coast's 2010 debut, and in their place, Cosentino's lone husky voice. The guitars were low in the mix, and without all the fuzz and honeyed oohs and aaahs, the songs were naked and direct, all aching melody and 20-something unease.
Alongside ace originals 'The End,' 'Summer Mood,' 'Goodbye' and 'I Want To,' Cosentino showed her range with a cover of Loretta Lynn's 'Fist City.' By singing a song about threatening to punch a girl for putting the moves on her man, Cosentino offered a playful, if unintentional, response to the criticism that she's too passive and boy-crazy in her lyrics -- an argument that misses the point of her music.
Cosentino sings almost exclusively about wanting to kiss, kill, talk on the phone with and generally make sense of the boys in her life, but that makes her honest, not weak. As she crosses the country with her band, justifying with each performance her decision to drop out of college and pursue a career singing her emotionally blunt pop songs, she exudes a tough, resourceful personality that manifests itself even in her choice of winter wardrobe.
"Do you like my pleather shorts?" she asked at one point. "Target!"
Best Coast Perform 'Each and Everyday' on 'Letterman'