Review: Best Coast bring sunny California to the TLA

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Best Coast arrived in Philly on Wednesday night bringing their brand of sunny California guitar pop to an enthusiastic crowd at the Theatre Of Living Arts. Early arrivers were rewarded with a strong performance by LA’s The Lovely Bad Things. They complimented a fan wearing a Sub Pop t-shirt and then proceeded to deliver a high-energy performance that would make that label proud, swapping instruments, bouncing around the stage and all taking turns singing. Next came New York’s Guards, on tour in support of their excellent In Guards We Trust album. Leader Richie Follin held his guitar over his head frequently and waved it out over the crowd during a powerful and crowd moving performance of the band’s psychedelic rock. (Check out their session with World Cafe’s David Dye here.)

Best Coast then took the stage to a roar from the crowd. The band is still on tour for last year’s successful The Only Place, playing a twenty-song mix of songs from their two albums and a couple of new songs. Highlights from early in the set included a moving, droning performance of “Last Year” followed by a sun kissed version of their ode to California, “The Only Place.” The prize of the night came in the form of two new songs. The first was a danceable rocker called “Fear Of My Identity” which the crowd reacted to with approval. The second was a shimmering new number called “Who Have I Become” which featured some stinging guitar work from Bobb Bruno. Late in the set came a slow starting “When I’m With You” with singer Bethany Cosentino playing the first verse slow by herself and then the band kicking in loud and fast. They played the song at a much faster pace than the recorded version, turning the floor of the club into a smiling sweating dancing mass.

The band returned for their encore with “Do You Love Me Like You Used Too.” When the band headlined Philly last year when The Only Place came out, Cosentino admitted that she added the song to the set list reluctantly, but did so because the fan response to it was so powerful. In their second performance here, the band played the song with an energy and intensity that shows the fans asked for the right thing, and they demonstrated their approval in the form of a loud response to the number. The band closed with the beautiful, yearning wall-of-sound “Boyfriend,” and sent the crowd out into the hot outdoors wishing for more summer nights like this.

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