Early Wednesday morning before the California rock act Best Coast arrived in Dallas, its lead singer Bethany Cosentino Tweeted from the band account an open letter to fans. The 28-year-old singer wanted to clear up some recent misconceptions that she'd been in a bad mood during performances because she doesn't engage in as much witty banter between songs as she once did.
"If I seem a little more 'serious' onstage, it's because I am a little more 'serious' in life these days, and if you don't like it, you can go on YouTube and find plenty of videos of me at age 24 talking about weed and cats," Cosentino's message read.
"Still the same Bratty B, just a more grown up version."
Indeed, that was the version of Cosentino the near-capacity crowd at the Granada Theater saw later on Wednesday -- she seemed to reserve all of her enthusiasm and focus for the songs themselves, keeping the spoken comments to a minimum. As a result, the set was speedy and taut, delivered shotgun as if Best Coast were a punk outfit. Yet all those folks at the show Wednesday screaming after every song know that the band's sound has more in common with the rock music that came along in the decades before punk.
Tunes from Best Coast's first album Crazy for You, especially, featured appropriately simple choruses and beach-party beats. In the hands of Cosentino, her permanent bandmate Bobb Bruno and their three extra touring players, "When I'm With You" and "The End" sounded more urgent than ever.
Fortunately for variety's sake, the 21-song set also included material from more complex releases that have continued to earn the band praise since its 2010 debut LP. This year's moody third full-length album California Nights got quite a bit of attention in the setlist, as it was released only last month. Its title track gave the band and the audience a chance to settle down and take in the vibes midway through the evening. As expected, the herbal odors inside the Granada, um, intensified along with the near-hallucinatory lyrics.
Other slower moments worked as standouts, from Cosentino stretching her vocals on the "Sleepwalker"-like ballad "No One Like You" to her full-on belt during "In My Eyes." Her vocals and Bruno's guitar playing remained studio perfect throughout the evening, so those who'd listened obsessively to the band's records were richly rewarded by the performance.
Still, even though Cosentino's early morning Tweet had smartly set the crowd up for her more "serious" attitude on stage, the show still came off a little too workmanlike at times. In the one instance the singer did speak at greater length, she revealed what's likely the true reason that they weren't lingering on stage. Even though the new album just came out, the band's been on the road all year long promoting it. The tour is drawing to a close, and the troops are tired.
"This is our third to last show; it's almost over," Cosentino said. The mix of fatigue and relief in her voice garnered a muted reaction from the audience, some of whom might have been surprised that she wasn't sugarcoating her weariness or actively fighting it. She apparently picked up on the mild disappointment coming back at her for admitting as much.
"This is why I don't talk on stage anymore," she said. And then Best Coast played another song.