Best Coast and Wavves brought a taste of summer to the Midland last night
As winter begins to shake off and touring bands once again begin to pop up like noisy spring buds, a bit of relief from concert withdrawal comes at last. Friday night’s Best Coast and Wavves performance, titled “Summer is Forever II” (a follow up to a 2011 tour of the same name), gave fans in Kansas City a chance to stretch their legs and wake up from that winter slumber with crisp, hour-long sets from each of these sunny, California-drenched acts.
Wavves was the first of the two headliners to take the stage and immediately launched into a rapid-fire set that pulled from Nathan Williams’ four full-length albums. The band’s selections ranged from scuzzy garage to pop punk and back with a load of energy — fueled by the pogo-ing floor crowd and a little bit of whiskey, brought onstage for Williams a few songs into the set.
Last October, Williams and the band released V, an album moving more rapidly in the pop direction than some of the act’s earlier offerings. Live, this was apparent, and would feel familiar to anyone who grew up on NOFX or early Green Day. Big hooks and big chord progressions dominated, and Williams’ defiant, nasal singing rang above it all, a recipe that beseeched the the crowd to sing along.
The most interesting efforts of the night were the result of Williams’ recent collaboration with Cloud Nothings, “No Life for Me.” The collaboration brought out a rougher, spacier bend in Williams’ songwriting and performed live, the title track from that effort worked well to balance out Williams’ mix of slower musings on self-loathing and the quick-clip skate punk party anthems.
The band cruised through an hour, tossing out balloons and inflatable green aliens for the eager audience. They ended strong with two of their best, “King of the Beach,” and a bruising, cacophonous performance of “Green Eyes.”
Following a short intermission, Bethany Cosentino, Bobb Bruno and their backing band walked onstage, greeting the crowd before beginning their set with “When I’m with You,” from the band’s celebrated debut. Cosentino drew all of the eyes in the room, in a crisp white collared jumpsuit and black tie. Bigger than the look though was Cosentino’s voice, which was clear and confident throughout the set.
Best Coast has matured with its most recent release, California Nights, and with the broader sound and time has come a larger audience. Cosentino joked about her last performance in Kansas City at the RecordBar, holding her arms out in a small circle around her.
“We were in a place just this big,” she said and smiled, “Now we’re in a place where Jerry Seinfeld performed. I saw his picture back there.” She also acknowledged that her mother had driven in from Omaha to see the show.
The title track off of California Nights, was a highlight. It began heavily, almost shoe-gazey, with a lot of additional reverb coming off Bruno’s guitar. Cosentino was sharp with her singing and cut her long notes short; the results were dark and beautiful. Another highlight was “Something in the Way,” which gave Bruno an opportunity to shine. His hands slid up and down the neck of his guitar, making every accented note feel special.
The audience erupted for “Boyfriend,” off the band’s debut. With both of her hands on the mic, and swinging her hips back and forth, Cosentino was impossible not to look at. That magnetic quality sustained throughout the set through the closer, “When Will I Change.”
It didn’t quite feel like summer, but it felt warm. Welcome back, concert season.
Wavves setlist (approximate, please leave corrections in the comments):
Sail to the Sun
My Head Hurts
Afraid of Heights
No Life For Me
Beat Me Up
Nine is God
All The Same
Heavy Metal Detox
Way Too Much
Dreams of Grandeur
Demon to Lean On
King of the Beach
Best Coast setlist:
When I’m With You
Crazy for You
Do You Love Me Like You Used To
When You Wake Up
I Want To
Dreaming My Life Away
The Only Place
Something in the Way
In My Eyes
When Will I Change