“You almost made me puke. That’s how hard I worked. I almost puked so many times,” Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino told a sold-out crowd at Terminal 5 on a freezing night in New York on Thursday — and she meant it in the best way after a performance that held the rowdiest of crowds’ attention from opening to encore.
The amount of crowd-surfing that went on during the show should have spelled plenty of puking for fans as well, many of whom were projected forward by their fellow mosh-pitters all the way into the arms of security men at the front of the stage. The crowd-surfing was so rampant that by halfway through what Cosentino called the “most epic show we’ve ever played,” the view from the balcony resembled a kind of human factory line that dispensed kids (a voter registration volunteer working the venue reported that many people he approached during the night were under 18) flying high on the band’s California vibes (among other substances). But that wasn’t all Best Coast had on display this time around, with much of their earlier uptempo work tempered by some of the new, slightly less sunny and more adult sound of the band’s latest album, California Nights.
From early favorites like “When I’m With You” (the show’s opener) to “Boyfriend” (the band’s lead single from their first album and still the biggest crowd-pleaser of the night), Best Coast gave die-hards the fun surf pop they came for but reserved plenty of time for new tracks like “Heaven Sent” and the psychedelic, dreamy “California Nights.” Slower songs like that one and “Dreaming My Life Away” seemed to have a slightly sedative effect on the audience, but Cosentino and Best Coast’s other half, guitarist Bobb Bruno, never let them rest for long. At one point, Cosentino shouted, “You ready to move again? Was that enough of a break?” before launching into “The Only Place,” when the fans went bonkers again and security soon had their arms full.
Cosentino spoke to Billboard before the show about how getting older (she’ll turn 30 this fall) has changed both her songwriting and her performance. “I don’t feel the need to stop and giggle awkwardly and make witty banter like I used to,” she said, in the midst of a lengthy discussion about how often she gets attacked by critics and social media commenters for her alleged lack of smiling during shows. From the get-go on Thursday, however, Cosentino seemed full of gratitude for the multitudes who turned out to see Best Coast along with opener Cherry Glazerr (who played an electric set led by frontwoman Clementine Creevy) and co-headliner Wavves, who has reunited with Best Coast for a sequel to their 2011 tour Summer is Forever and whipped the crowd into a frenzy before the final act even took the stage.
“Oh my god,” Cosentino remarked early into the show, looking into the teeming mass. “There are so many of you.” Dressed in a glittery black jumpsuit and alternating between guitar and tambourine (or just her own strong vocals), Cosentino accepted flowers from the audience on more than one occasion and even responded “I love you too” back to one vocal admirer before encoring with the plaintive lover’s lament “Bratty B.” Not that she owes it to them, but if any social-media trolls were waiting to accuse Cosentino of not being “happy to be there,” this show was a better counterpoint than anything she could ever fire back in a tweet.