Best Coast is a band inevitably associated with summer with their beachy pop tunes and California roots. On a balmy July evening in Toronto, Best Coast’s show at The Phoenix definitely brought the summer vibes – the only thing missing was the actual beach!
The scene was set with a massive stage backdrop featuring a bear hugging the state of California – as seen on Best Coast’s latest album, The Only Place. Supporting band Those Darlins from Nashville, TN did a veritable job at rousing the crowd with their punky, garage rock tunes, judging by the audience’s cheers and enthusiastic applause.
When the venue went dark and an instrumental interlude of “Dreaming My Life Away” cued up, the air was heavy with anticipation. The crowd screamed as each band member took their place on stage, but the loudest screams, cheers and “I love you’s” were undoubtedly reserved for Bethany Cosentino, the face and frontwoman of Best Coast.
Opening with “The End” from 2010’s Crazy For You, Cosentino appeared to be in good spirits; her easygoing nature was evident in the banter in between songs. “Are you guys alive out there?” she asked. “Move around or dance or something!” Then with almost-comedic timing, she relented with a laugh, “Or don’t, I don’t care! Some people are more comfortable not moving around. Like me! When I dance, I look like Elaine Benes!” A mainstay on Twitter and Instagram, Cosentino often posts about her obsession with Seinfeld, so her reference to her favourite Seinfeld character didn’t come as a surprise to the audience.
Filling in the set with mostly songs from the new album, Cosentino’s voice sounded mildly strained at some points. The crowd didn’t seem to mind at all, jumping excitedly and singing along with the upbeat title track “The Only Place” and “Let’s Go Home.”
The show had its “Toronto moment,” when Cosentino pointed over at bassist Brett Mielke, who was wearing a Toronto Blue Jays ball cap and introduced him as a “hometown boy.” The audience cheered loudly and even louder when Cosentino donned the hat herself. “Take all the fucking pictures you want, “ she grinned. “’Cause I’m taking this thing off in a minute.” As predicted, a sea of cell phone cameras appeared in the air as Cosentino cheekily posed and then turned the cap backwards, before returning it to Mielke’s head.
The best performances of the show were the older songs, most notably “Our Deal,” “Summer Mood” and “Something in the Way.” The band closed their pre-encore set with “Up All Night,” which was my favourite song of the night. While it appears on the new album with lush orchestration and instrumentation, it was originally released as a lo-fi dreamy number on a 7-inch split with Jeans Wilder back in 2009, so it’s sort of an old/new song.
Their encore performance consisted of more crowd pleasers, including “I Want To,” “Sun Was High (So Was I),” “When I’m With You” and show closer, “Boyfriend.” Cosentino referenced a song request from a fan on Twitter for their cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s “Storms.” She said, “We were going to do this song anyway, but we’re dedicating this to you, for your date night.” Their rendition was a lovely showcase of Cosentino’s voice, which sounded strong and appropriately emotional, though she forgot some of the lyrics towards the end. The cover was still a surprise highlight of the night.
As the band left the stage, Bobb Bruno, the other half of Best Coast, grabbed the mic to say thank you one last time. Sweaty showgoers could be heard enthusing to their friends about how “awesome” the show had been, as they made their way to exit into the summer night.