REVIEW: Best Coast, College Street Music Hall, New Haven, Conn.

BC1 Watching a live Best Coast show feels like attending a booze-soaked bonfire on the California coast. It’s warm and uplifting on the surface, but deep down you’re hiding insecurities and uncertainties while staring at strangers bathed in orange. Singer Bethany Cosentino puts herself out there, from her feelings of anxiety and sadness to her self-awareness of those very feelings. It’s partly why her fans connect to her: her candor, her slivers of optimism, her ability to carry on.

Best Coast stopped by New Haven’s College Street Music Hall on a day-off from their tour with Paramore, and Cosentino was still looking to shake some of those feels expressed on the band’s latest album California Nights. The morning of the show she tweeted:

We’ve been there, Bethany.

From the stage, she thanked the crowd for showing up (despite not having a new record to promote), helping her kick her morning sad, and for making it all worth it. But had she not been so forthcoming, fans wouldn’t have been any wiser. The group, including lead guitarist Bobb Bruno, opened with a tight 1-2 punch of “Goodbye” and “Crazy For You” from the group’s debut. From there, it was all the breezy, west coast-inspired pop rock melodies Best Coast is known for, side-by-side with Cosentino’s sometimes-biting, sometimes-depressing lyrics.

Cosentino and Bruno now tour with extra hands on deck: Brady Miller is behind the drums, Brett Mielke slaps bass, and Joe Bautista provides extra guitar support and keys. Having three guitarists on stage lets Bautista work his keyboard when needed, and gives Cosentino flexibility to put down her guitar to focus on vocals and crowd work. The lineup gives Best Coast a fuller sound and more room to groove. (They bumped up from a four-piece to five in 2015.)

Tracks from California Nights were both the centerpieces and foundation of the set, but the Crazy For You cuts were the most exciting to hear (despite Cosentino’s disdain for fan fave “Boyfriend”). Along with the title track and “Goodbye,” the crowd was treated to “I Want To” and “Our Deal,” which brought some chill to the set’s bounce. Though Cosentino wasn’t as chatty as her area appearance last year, she interacted with the crowd, handing out roses to a lucky few, and after closer “When Will I Change,” personally handing her setlist to a fan hugging the rail.

The music scene in New Haven has been thriving, largely in part to the addition of College Street Music Hall a couple years ago—a venue that entices bands to take that short drive from New York City on a random day off. Best Coast was welcomed back to Connecticut by adoring fans, and with fall creeping up slowly on New England, it was fun to cling on to sunny summer vibes one last time. BC2 BC3BC4 BC5 BC6 BC9BC6 BCSeinfeld