There are some bands that feel right any time and any place, like a favourite pair of sneakers that never leave your feet. But Best Coast is like a pair of sunglasses, inseparable from a certain time and a certain place, casting a cool, surf-rock shade over the harsh glow of the summer sun.
The L.A.-based band came to The Rio Theatre last Monday and brought the sounds of summer with them. If there’s anything that makes the heat of 100 bodies crammed into a theatre bearable, the warm fuzz of a California guitar goes a long way.
The band started off playing some of their best material right out of the gate, and after getting warmed up, they took the crowd’s considerable energy and transmuted it into a near-perfect performance.
The crowd was excellent, basically forcing the band to react to their whims, showering the stage and lead singer Bethany Cosentino with flowers, letters, and enthusiastic demands for her sweat towel. The Rio is a seated venue, but the audience made the most of the space, standing up and wedging themselves where they could, close to the stage, creating an enjoyable intimate relationship with the band.
After a couple straight tunes, Cosentino took the audience’s bait and started having fun with them, telling stories, teasing the loudest audience members, and goofing off with the various gifts being thrown around on stage.
Once the band and the audience got comfortable with each other, the wall between them fell away and it started to feel less like Best Coast was performing to their fans and more like they were hanging out with them. The band switched around instruments, made fun of each other, and even stopped a song once to start it over again, just for the hell of it.
But none of this compromised their performance. Best Coast played a great set, and Cosentino’s vocals were at their best, filling the room with a personal warmth. Guitarist Bobb Bruno was just as exciting to watch, and the extended touring musicians’ taking on bass and drumming duties easily matched the rest of the band’s energy.
Best Coast is a band that is best at capturing a specific mood very well, and each of their songs were short and sweet, letting no one mood linger too long, keeping the concert moving quickly. Their concert had no slow middle section, and even the self-proclaimed slow set was just as exciting as their surf-rock jams that came before it.
While Vancouver’s West Coast hospitality opened the band up and made them feel like friends in our city, Best Coast’s inviting energy and intimate performance filled The Rio with the warmth of the California sun, and took Vancouver to the heart of the San Fernando. After stepping out of the theatre and back onto Commercial Drive, I had to wonder who was actually visiting who.