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Monday, February 28, 2011

Saturday at Noise Pop: Best Coast Is Lazy, Wavves Is Crazy at the Regency Ballroom

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Best Coast at the Regency Ballroom Saturday night. - CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio
  • Best Coast at the Regency Ballroom Saturday night.
Best Coast
Hunx & His Punx
February 26, 2011

Better than: Standing on Van Ness avenue in not-snow, holding a useless laminated card.

We can sorta see why you'd think a Noise Pop Festival badge would get you into a climactic Saturday night show only a few minutes after its 8 p.m. start time. 

We certainly did. But alas. 

All badge access to the Best Coast/Wavves/Hunx and His Punx conflagration at Regency was cut off at 8 p.m. on the dot. Period. The show was sold-way-the-fuck-out, and the young'uns started lining up to get in before sundown. So badge holders who didn't arrive before the 8 p.m. start time (like we ever) were not getting inside to see Bethany and Nathan and their giant vomiting cat poster.

Which is unfortunate. You guys in the grousing, lanyard-ed posse outside: Can we introduce you to the scalper mumbling about $70 for a working ticket? That's your only avenue to hearing "Boyfriend" live tonight. The rest of you badge holders are doing something else.

  • Christopher Victorio
  • Best Coast
But keep this apparent loss in perspective, because tonight is the last night of the Best Coast with Wavves run, and they are tired. Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino seems especially so. Their current long-ass haul is branded the Summer Is Forever tour, but today it is snowing in Hollywood. "Summer is over," Bethany volunteers from on stage, grateful and sighing, but with no small relief after weeks of tweets about missing home. Since she's looking forward to the end just a bit, those thrown-together-sounding Best Coast songs where "crazy" rhymes with "lazy" and "you" rhymes with "you" and in between them is all "oooohs," well, a lot of them sound as vacant and shoddy as you might have feared.

And of course, a lot of them sound like each other. Bethany wrote tonight's setlists, and the initial songs seem to have been ordered slightly differently by their author, so when the band steps into whatever comes after "Sun Was High (So Was I)," Ms. Best Coast stops it and pushes for a new selection. "That one sounds a lot like the one we just played," Bethany mentions to guitarist Bobb Bruno (who does not seem tired) and drummer Ali Koehler (largely hidden from view by drums). Well, she said it for us, and with a laugh even.

  • Christopher Victorio
  • Best Coast
But there are a few, sudden moments of surprising merit: A tremendous cover of Loretta Lynn's "Fist City" in which Bethany's voice rides the nuanced melody up and down like a roller coaster hugging its track. (Where did all that rich dimension to her voice come from and why does she usually hide it?) And despite its clunky one-chord-for-five-minutes opening, "When I'm With You" wins as well. Set closer "Each and Everyday," like Best Coast's faster songs tonight, stirs the bones of the stoners and riles up the pogo-ers in front. Before it's over, Bethany waves a distracted goodbye, stoops to grab her drink, and walks off. 

Wavves' Nathan Williams - CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio
  • Wavves' Nathan Williams
Earlier on, the three members of Wavves stroll out in darkness to Marylin Manson's "The Beautiful People," which probably half of tonight's audience is too young to know. The song plays on. It's still dark. The band goes into "Friends Were Gone," and we can only make out outlines in the blackness onstage. Williams is now shouting "stage lights!" in between his lyrics with increasing desperation, and we still can't see anything up there until just before the end of the song. This is what it looked like:

But as Williams often claims, he doesn't give a fuck about much, so the whole lights thing doesn't dim his charming insouciance one bit. He refers to Bethany, his squeeze, by her Twitter handle "(@BestyCoastyy), tells the furiously moshing kids in front to "take a chill pill," issues a random  "Fuck Bruno Mars" (to loud applause), and explains to a randy fan: "I don't want to have babies. Babies are disgusting. They're like dogs, but they aren't cute." For some reason none of this is half as amusing as when Williams introduces "Beach Demon" with: "Thanks for coming guys. We're Best Coast. This song's called 'Boyfriend.'"

  • Christopher Victorio
  • Wavves
As for the songs, they are one furious mess after another, blasted by loud drums through the house P.A., and satisfying for about half the time. Wavves garage-punk songs are about as repetitive as Best Coast's garage-pop; his are about not caring while hers are about caring too much, and he's approximately 37 times more snotty. But most of his are fast, so there was at least a vigorous all-ages pit to watch.

  • Christopher Victorio
  • Hunx and His Punx
S.F. locals Hunx and His Punx played MVP of the night firstly and most flirtatiously, with a fez-wearing Seth Bogart flashing his black manties, spreading his leopard-print-tight-wearing legs, and casting various devious looks while prancing along the Regency's wide stage. With his band of capable ladies handling the instruments, Hunx was free to seduce various members of the crowd as necessary. He did it better than anyone else on Saturday's bill.

  • Christopher Victorio
  • Hunx and His Punx
Critic's Notebook

FYI: Best Coast's requisite "I smoked too much weed today" giggle comes after Bethany aborts about 20 seconds into new song "Summer Adventure." (They played it again later.)

You were warned: "The backstage really smells like weed -- I'm not joking," Hunx offered toward the end of his set. Like we wouldn't believe him.

Critical pronouncement: Wavves is the Blink-182 of now.

Personal bias: Bethany swallowed and/or dryly spoke the words to "Make You Mine," the Best Coast song I like most.

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