Report: Best Coast/Wavves at Noise Pop 2011

Dateline: Saturday,
Feb. 26, San Francisco,
the Noise Pop festival: ‘Summer is Forever’ Tour Ends With Snow

 

By David Downs

 

Everyone who’s been in a hot mess of a relationship
understands one true thing: it can’t last.

 

And so ended the first-ever Best Coast and Wavves “joint”
tour late night Saturday in San Francisco, where the cringeworthy and the
sublime cozied up side by side, marking a discordant peak to 2011’s Noise Pop
music festival.

 

More than 100 bands crowded into 18 venues over five days
for Noise Pop this year, including shows by Yo La Tengo, No Age, Ben Gibbard,
and Ted Leo. Three-piece San Diego surf rockers Wavves, and fellow SoCal indie
rock trio Best Coast were also ranked among that list in terms of pre-show
hype, but the sold out show Saturday night stumbled, bumbled, and in some cases
drew a blank despite the quality of the songs themselves.

 

The stumble: Lead singer/guitarist Nathan Williams messing up Wavves’
opening song “Friends Were Gone” because the stage lights didn’t come on and he
can’t play in the dark.

 

“Does that mean we’re not good?” the buzz band leader
asked bassist Stephen Pope, formerly with Jay Reatard.

 

“Yep.”

 

The bumble: on Wavves’ song two, drummer Jacob Cooper’s kick pedal
appeared to come unchained, and the song lost its bass end. Wavves tried to
play through it, but with a roadie working in his lap, Cooper eventually lost
the beat and the song crumbled.

 

All of this was immediately forgotten during smashing
renditions of “Idiot”, “King of the Beach” and “Green Eyes” off Wavves’ 2010 Fat Possum LP King of the Beach. But Williams
went on to make another mistake on guitar, and Cooper continued to miss beats.
Eventually, Williams called Cooper out on his drumming, yet the very next song
Cooper dropped his stick on the intro.

 

By the closing track, Cooper was so frustrated with his
own playing he knocked over his cymbals early. He finished without them, at
which point he chucked his sticks into the crowd, and stormed off. Williams
yanked off his guitar, hurled it through the drum kit, stalked off and punched
Cooper in the back. None of this looked rehearsed.

 

Underscoring the mess: Williams’ very public endorsement
of smoking weed all the time. Wavves had sold out of its custom weed grinders
at their merch booth Saturday night. Cats and aliens smoked dope in the
background art on stage. Williams quoted Lil Wayne last week saying, “An addict can’t do
what I do” and fans unfurled a ‘blunts after show?’ banner that Williams wore
as a cape.

 

But your act better be bulletproof before you out yourself
as a weed head, because otherwise it’s the first thing people will think about
when you fuck up; especially when your job is to perform just two hours a day,
perhaps three days a week. The audience pays full price for an artist to
doublecheck the lighting, the drums, and the drummer, know their parts in the
dark, and not fuck them up in the light. And while there’s plenty of brilliant
artists who deploy messiness as part of their sound, they control the mess
rather become its victim. Williams has a year to get clean, get perfect, or
resign himself to the studio, where a producer can manicure such sloppiness.

 

 

The flub: Best Coast lead singer and twitter celebrity
Bethany Cosentino – currently dating Wavves’ Williams – aborting new song
“Sunny Adventure” after three failed attempts to remember the chord
progression.

 

“I smoked too much weed today,” she apologized. Half the
crowd cheered while the other half groaned, which is a great way to describe Los Angeles indie rock newbies Best Coast.
Listen to their 2010 Mexican Summer release Crazy For You and you’ll
either love the girly anthems, resent their brand of lapdog feminism, or both.

 

Cosentino managed to give her backup drummer and guitarist
(no bass in Best Coast) different setlists Saturday night, causing a halting
journey through their tiny collection of songs, including quality renditions of
“Up All Night”, “Goodbye”, “Crazy For You”, “Make You
Mine”, and “Boyfriend”. It was Best
Coast’s second time at
Noise Pop and they were in a much bigger venue, she said, following year-long
meteoric rise. Cosentino lacks the vocal range to rival her amazing bangs, but
still managed to hit one out of the park with a cover of Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City”.

 

The “Summer is Forever” tour closed after midnight to no
encore. Perhaps symbolically, snow fell in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

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