I first saw Best Coast with my dad at Bonnaroo 2011, right after the release of their debut LP, Crazy For You. Their songs were short, sweet, and to the point, while still being incredibly catchy. For months my dad would still sing, “I wish she was my girlfriend… or boyfriend” and I would repeatedly correct him. After the release of The Only Place in 2012, Best Coast scheduled a rare East Coast performance at The National, so I bought two tickets for my dad’s birthday present. We arrived around 7:50pm, to reduce the chances of the tallest human being in the building standing directly in front of me. The crowd was sparse, but everyone literally looked as if they walked out of an Urban Outfitters ad. The audience was also noticeably young, which made me feel like a moustache creep even though I’m still two months shy of 20.
The first opening act was The Lovely Bad Things. I was not familiar with their music, but after a few songs I was aggressively head-bobbing. Their sound had the beach/summer vibe of Best Coast, but it packed a punch like The Black Lips. The band was clearly talented, with every member taking turns with each instrument. Near the end, I found myself wishing that I could see them perform in their hometown, because this band was definitely mosh-pit worthy. After their last song ended, the whole crowd let out a collective “wow” and the cheers were full and authentic.
Next came Guards. The band performed the majority of the set in darkness, which brought more attention to their sound. Guards still had the beach vibe like Best Coast and The Lovely Bad Things, but they had a more polished sound and less bite. Their music was very melancholy, which turned the energy level down a few notches. At one point, the lead singer requested to turn all the lights off and the band started a noise-rock jam session. The singer then proceeded to perform various guitar tricks, such as rubbing the strings against a cymbal, mostly for his own entertainment. Guards had a great sound, but I would have preferred to see them perform before The Lovely Bad Things so that the energy level would have beeen building upwards.
After Guards, I looked around and realized that the crowd had nearly doubled. I still felt like an old creep. At 9:45pm, Best Coast walked onstage and jumped right into “Goodbye.” Instead of the usual band introduction, Best Coast flowed from song to song, mixing “Crazy For You” and “The Only Place.” Bethany Cosentino would make goofy faces at the crowd and occasionally say things like “Why are you yelling?” or share how sweaty she was. The crowd jumped right into the spirit of her sarcastic banter. Cosentino took questions between songs, at one point telling a girl to write her phone number down so she could call her later. The band did play a few new songs, which were longer than usual, and put the focus on the band as a whole. The energy within the crowd always seemed to be on the verge of turning into a pit. At one point, I jumped into a guy and we “moshed” a bit, but then the lyrics about heartbreak crept in and it felt too strange.
When the band finished their main set, Cosentino promised they would be back and everyone believed her because they had yet to play “Boyfriend.” A few minutes of hollering, applause and foot stomping went by, and as promised, Best Coast returned to the stage. Cosentino gave away her sweat rag, and the band performed “Boyfriend” to complete the show. Great opening bands, a short-shorts wearing crowd, and Best Coast all combined for a fun night at the National, and a feel-good way to start to my summer.