Concert Review: Best Coast at The Rave (Milwaukee, WI)

Best Coast (Los Angeles, CA)
August 1st, 2013
The Rave in Milwaukee, WI

Los Angeles lo-fi duo Best Coast made the most out of a mildly attended concert that, all things considered, was going to be a tough draw for most indie rock bands playing the bill that night in Milwaukee. Bud Light’s pseudo-festival event, 50/50/1, took place Thursday night around the country, with 50 bands playing on the same night, each in one of the 50 states. The entire event lineup was rather diverse, in genres and prominence (Kendrick Lamar played Detroit; Ludacris played Atlanta, while several other cities featured veteran or up-and-coming indie or country acts).

As a whole, it seemed like a fine enough idea; uniting a bunch of shows around the country under one collective event. However, a major snag with the event was that the concerts (at least at the Milwaukee show, but I imagine it was the same for all shows) were 21 and older. Milwaukee’s The Rave is well-known for concerts open to all ages, so when the Best Coast show was announced as part of 50/50/1 and was 21+, it likely cut out a good portion of interested attendees. Another unfortunate setback to the event’s Milwaukee show, is that Milwaukee is the home and birthplace of Miller beer, and the perennial city-wide advertiser, Miller Lite. So anything teaming up with rival Budweiser or Bud Light, really doesn’t garner all that much acceptance around the city. A final obstacle to the show was Justin Vernon’s The Shouting Matches, which was playing to a full Turner Hall the same night across town, thus dividing Milwaukee’s music-loving indie scene.

Despite the outer circumstances that weighed unfavorable to Best Coast’s Milwaukee show, the duo appreciated the fans that were present, and put together a fun, and, what turned out to be, a rather intimate live show. Frontwoman Bethany Cosentino and bandmate Bobb Bruno along with a touring bassist and drummer, executed favorites off of their debut, Crazy For You, and 2012’s The Only Place.

Crazy For You’s “Goodbye” and “Summer Mood” got the set going early on a seasonal note. The denser, edgier “Last Year” was an early show favorite of mine. As a whole I do like the direction Best Coast took with their second album. It may not be as sun-soaked pop as the debut, but it’s deeper, more flushed out and serious—never bad directions for a young band. The yearning “How They Want Me To Be” was another The Only Place track that memorably stood out on the night.

The band played their new Record Store Day track, “Fear of My Identity,” and it came off as heavier and more cathartic than most previous Best Coast material. It was my first time hearing the track and I enjoyed it, especially the song’s lingering closing line, “I want it to be you, but I know it’s me.”

One of the strengths to Best Coast’s music that stands out at the live show, is Cosentino’s powerful and swooning voice. The smokey “Honey” and set closer “Each and Everyday” both beautifully showcased her range, which hints of a classic elegance. For the delicate last break of “Each and Everyday” Cosentino swung the guitar to her back and finished the song effortlessly lulling the gorgeous “Each and Everyday” lines. It was a wonderful ending to the set. And even with only a few hundred people in the crowd, Cosentino and Bruno came back out for an encore, playing The Only Place highlight “Do You Love Me Like You Used To” and Best Coast megahit “Boyfriend.”

Considering the circumstances, Best Coast put together an enjoyable set Thursday night. I wish the 50/50/1 was more of a success in Milwaukee, but I’m sure no one at Anheuser-Busch marketing would be surprised to hear that the Milwaukee show was one of the more poorly attended of the 50 shows. And really, none of that is at fault to the band. I just hope Best Coast doesn’t take this personally and never steps foot in the city again. I know their Milwaukee fan base is more prominent than what was represented at The Rave show Thursday night. It would be nice to see them back again, and if not soon, maybe next summer playing something outdoors (possibly a Summerfest spot), as Best Coast tunes are always a perfect soundtrack to those pleasant summer nights.

Thoughts?

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