Live Review

Best Coast, Manchester Deaf Institute

The closest you can feel to idling away your days on some beautiful, distant beach.

Apparently dreamt up during Bethany Cosentino’s days spent in New York, yearning for her home on the opposite side of the US, she probably feels the same pangs of longing in the grey surroundings of Manchester. Perhaps that’s the reason her performance is so brilliant, but it’d be most unlike a talent like Best Coast to be heavily affected by a European tour. Through a series of 7” singles and EPs, coupled with free downloads and demos, hype has steadily blossomed for the Californian to the point where she has over 30,000 listeners, a full debut album on the way and a legion of blogs following every chime of a guitar.

Songs from the upcoming long-player, recorded earlier this year, make up most of the set, with every song seemingly prefaced with the disclaimer of “Here’s a new one.” Thankfully, the crowd are far away from pop guzzling teenagers who turn up to hear a specific song, and Best Coast’s whole ethos is one more rooted in the sound than in particular songs. Of course, being able to hear longtime favourite ‘Sun Was High (So Was I)’ feels like an epiphany, but that’s as much down to Cosentino’s superb singing as it is the song’s semi-legendary status amongst fans.

Even with the minimal backing band she brings with her – a drummer and a bassist to add to her functional rhythmic guitar work – it’s the vocals that are central to the performance. As a dispassionate onlooker, it’d be easy to tell that there’s a ridiculous amount of talent in those vocal chords. There are thousands of pop stars who couldn’t come close to the crooning on display, with note and octave changes done at will and with consummate ease. On recordings that have been passed about it’s often difficult to decipher, but with the layer of fuzz ripped off, there’s little you can do but admire the beauty.

At almost an hour long set for a band yet to put out an album, along with three superb support acts, promoters Now Wave certainly know how to give value for money. The highly impressive Boy or Bison opened up, followed by the equally exciting Dinner Party. Last to perform to the rapidly swelling audience were Waiters, playing with reckless abandon and emphatically confirming the amazing strength that the city holds at the moment. Whilst there’s a certain something that holds them together, it’s difficult to say what. Thankfully, in amongst the distorted vocals and charmingly ramshackle performances, there’s not a trace of the atypical Mancunian band that has haunted the city for over a decade, perhaps the most exciting part of the blossoming scene.

But whilst there are growing amount of local bands that feel like the rainy city’s little secret, Best Coast are certainly on their upper echelons of the pitchfork driven elite. The Drums might’ve taken the surf-rock formula and combined it with 80’s pop to devastating effect, but no-one quite does the chilled out, easy going, sun drenched jangling of guitars quite as truthfully as Bethany Cosentino. Between songs she chats with the audience, actively seeking questions and she tunes her guitar. Whilst there are jokes and debate about the scarcity of cider in the US (she’s wheat intolerant), when she strums a guitar and opens her mouth, it’s the closest you can feel to idling away your days on some beautiful, distant beach – probably what was intended from the very start.

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