Best Coast rolled into Denver’s Bluebird Theater on Wednesday night to promote their breakthrough, hyper-buzzed midsummer release, “Crazy For You.” The band almost immediately became one of the more successful of several current fuzz pop acts mining the ’60s girl group/surf sound through a Jesus and Mary Chain filter. The sound is pretty much what the Raveonettes have been doing for years, but without the occasional dour Scandinavian twist on it.
A decent-sized crowd crammed the front half of the Bluebird to see if the live version matched the hype. On this night, it just didn’t. It was a pleasant enough, hour-long show but lacked the sparkle, the atmosphere and, above all, the fun that “Crazy For You” has in spades.
For the most part, few fans of live music want to hear an act replicate the exact sound of the album on stage. Predictably missing from Wednesday’s show were the lush double-tracked harmonies and nearly all the reverb. A highlight and a revelation, though, was hearing Beth Cosentino’s untreated, unaccompanied voice live, which soared, rang out and was amazingly powerful at times, particularly on songs like “Goodbye,” “Boyfriend” and “Summer Mood.”
Besides Cosentino’s songs, another appeal of Best Coast’s sound is Bobb Bruno’s guitar. Unfortunately, Wednesday night at the Bluebird, his guitar was often buried in the mix. Little, if any, of the band’s signature fuzz, surf-twang sound was audible. Yes, it’s a live show, but the lack of the “Crazy For You” wall of guitar sound, other than Cosentino’s rhythm guitar, was part of the show’s failure to take off. Although she didn’t play on “Crazy For You,” Vivian Girls’ drummer Ali Koehler, added for the tour, anchored the show exceptionally well. Koehler brought solid, unassuming, yet damn near perfect drumming on every song.
“Each and Every Day” got the energy and the crowd going toward the end of the 20 song (plus) set. Spontaneous audience rhythmic handclaps were one of the few signs the crowd was getting into it. There was little, if any, dancing in the tightly-packed crowd up front or on the sides. Best Coast played all of everybody’s favorites, not hard to do while on a debut album tour, while the affable Cosentino, celebrating her birthday, charmed the crowd between songs.
All in all, not a bad show by any stretch. It was great hearing Cosentino sing all of her perfectly-crafted, sweet dumb songs from “Crazy For You” live. Bonus credit should be awarded for closing the show by covering “That’s The Way Boys Are” by Leslie Gore, another Best Coast influence. Still, for an album that drips with as much energy, fun and youthful exuberance as “Crazy For You” does, the live performance of it, on this night at least, really didn’t match the hype.
Mike Long is a Longmont-based writer and comedian and a regular contributor to Reverb.
Joe McCabe is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb. Check out his website.