Noise Pop Review: Best Coast celebrates all things California at the Regency Ballroom

Best Coast

Best Coast performs at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on Feb. 29, 2020. Onome Uyovbievbo/STAFF.

SAN FRANCISCO — Best Coast, fresh off releasing its fourth album, Always Tomorrow, performed the marquee Noise Pop festival show Saturday at the Regency Ballroom. 

The L.A. band of Bethany Cosentino and guitarist Bobb Bruno, performing with three backing musicians, was clearly excited to show off its new breezy rock collection.

The stage was illuminated by a single neon blue sign with the album title while a lone synth tone bounced across the room’s walls. The dual meaning of the title asked a perplexing question. Was it an affirmation that life always goes on? Or a celebration of procrastination?

After what felt like five minutes, the band arrived to answer the question. Bruno brandished his windswept hair and a black shirt while Cosentino arrived in a sleek gray pantsuit. They quickly dove into one of the best songs within their catalog, “California Nights.” Bruno’s guitar rang out across the ballroom while Cosentino powerfully crooned about her love of California. It seemed appropriate to strap in for plenty of homages to the Golden State.

Best Coast

Best Coast’s Beth Cosentino.

Best Coast then dug into three new tunes, including Always Tomorrow opener “Different Light,” where Cosentino made use of repeated stanza of “Wait wait wait” and “Hope hope hope” to power through a high-energy bundle of fuzzed-out rock and roll. The energy continued for the lover-done-me-wrong tune “Wreckage,” the mid-tempo “For The First Time” slowed things down.

At this point Cosentino revealed that the pause at the start of the show was due to a technical difficulty.

“We’re not about to go My Bloody Valentine on you yet,” she said before launching into a batch of crowd favorites like “The Only Place,” with it’s spindly guitar; deliriously hazy love song “Crazy For You” and depression anthem “Goodbye,” which featured drum breakdown.

The electronic bloops that opened “Seeing Red” brought Best Coast back to rolling out new songs, and it was followed up by the first song that Cosentino wrote for Always Tomorrow: writer’s block smasher “Everything Has Changed.” The band followed with another touching set of vocals on “Our Deal.” 

Cosentino prefaced “Rollercoaster,” possibly the new album’s best song, as an ode to Janis Joplin. Its inescapable groove rolled forward while Cosentino harmonized about her reservations with the unpredictabilities of life. Eventually, Bruno conjured up a ripping guitar solo before moving on to another new tune, “Make It Last.”

Best Coast

Best Coast’s Bobb Bruno.

Bruno led “Feeling OK” with a sparkling guitar line before the band chugged powerfully into Cosentino’s self-served pep talk. Always Tomorrow album closer “Used To Be” played the role of set closer as well. The song plodded forward slowly and deliberately, as if Best Coast was loathe to let it go and have the show end, while Cosentino mused upon potentially regretting her last breakup.

Following a break, Cosentino returned by herself and encouraged the audience to register to vote before playing a rendition of “When I’m With You.” Bruno and the rest of the band came out for Best Coast’s biggest hit, “Boyfriend,” which turned into a sing-along while Cosentino prowled across the stage while singing the addicting chorus.

Over the course of the show, Best Coast played through nearly every song on its new album while still hitting plenty of fan favorites from its back catalog. Cosentino’s relatable self-depreciation and knowing voice paired beautifully with Bruno’s bright surf rock licks.

Philadelphia alternative and punk rock band Mannequin Pussy opened the show. Led by Marisa Dabice, who was adept at morphing into various shapes based on the tone of the song she was performing, the  breadth of the band was impressive as well. Some songs would curdle and creak as the band whipped into a thrash-punk frenzy, while others, like new single “Drunk II,” found Mannequin Pussy channeling ’90s alt-rock—think Courtney Love’s Hole.

Mannequin Pussy

Mannequin Pussy.

At one point, after a particularly intense cut, Dabice realized someone near the front of the stage had lost a shoe and took a moment to help them find it before moving on. She prefaced the band’s penultimate tune with some feelings about her songwriting process.

“So much happens that makes me wanna scream,” she said. “Our fucked-up collective pain leaves us nowhere safe to do this. So we created a place to scream.”

This was an apt introduction for a song that featured Dabice twisting and thrashing in order to effectively transfer her frustrations and fears to the audience.

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