Best Coast give Biltmore deja vu
//JJ Brewis

Bethany Cosentino and her Best Coast project were the biggest deal in muffled garage rock two years ago. I saw the band a total of three times within six months, yet for some reason kept coming back for more. The crunchy hazed out guitars and distorted lovelorn lyrics rode the wave that similar artists like Vivian Girls established, but capitalized on the niche with the concept album "Crazy For You" - that is if boo-hoo boyfriend-dumped-me guitar pop can be described as concept (I'm going with yes).

Needless to say, music fans are fickle as shit, but for some reason Cosentino has a certain appeal that drew in enough of a mixed demographic to sell out the show. The woman has so much charm that she's created a Twitter account for her cat Snacks and sells novelty plush recreations of him at her merch booth. That is only the quirkiest bit about her girl-next-door, which also includes a line of summer threads at Urban Outfitters and the fact that she somehow snagged Hollywood producer Jon Brion to work with her on much of the material on her new album "The Only Place". The last time I saw Best Coast at The Biltmore, a very supportive and warm Cosentino comforted my drunk ass and told me to chase after a boy who was obviously not the one for me. I may have been extremely wasted, but I'll never forget her taking the time to sit with me and attempt to cheer me up. Needless to say, her album became my heartbreak go-to, shelved tightly between "Jagged Little Pill" and "Tragic Kingdom" in my record collection. 

It's clear that I'm not the only one who has found some sort of personal connection with Best Coast. The album cover for "Place" depicts a brown bear hugging the state of California, giving the title specificity. And upon listen, the tracks on the album are almost a carbon copy of her first release, surf-infused sunny pop that sounds entirely vintage and charged with energy, until the downtrodden lyrics about bummers and shitty relationships set in, creating one of the most juxtaposed appeals in current music history. Given the material's shady core, it's no wonder that Brion signed on with Cosentino for this disc, given that his track record is a cornucopia of bleeding heart style artists like Fiona Apple and Rufus Wainwright. That said, the new record does showcase Brion's production values, a high budget treatment that sees Best Coast depart the garage and sit comfortably among music's A-listers. It's something to be said that the authenticity is still in tact despite such a significant production upgrade.

Yet, live, Cosentino and her well-rounded band still retain every last ounce of dive bar do-goodery that made them so great in the first place. "We played here once three years ago," she told the crowd. "A fight broke out while we were playing. We aren't really fighting music."

It probably didn't hurt that local openers Nu Sensae brought their blend of wacky punk to the much excited audience. By the time Best Coast's set arrived, it was nearly midnight, but the crowd was singing along and dancing to each lyric as if it was an excerpt of their own high school diary. Even with the new songs a bit more filled out, it was the classic break-up go-to tunes like "Our Deal" that had the couples in the audience swapping their PBRs for a soft hand hold, and the singles in the crowd clutching their newly purchased vinyl copies of "The Only Place", hoping for an answer within the tracks.

//JJ Brewis, editor-in-chief
//photos by Tom Nugent

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