How They Want Me To Be: Best Coast In Omaha

What is the best coast?

I don’t have a dog in that fight.

But there is little question as to which side of the country Bethany Cosentino is talking about with her band Best Coast. The new album cover for “The Only Place” features a bear hugging the state of California.

I’m not lying.

The titular song also conjures up images of the West:

Why would you live anywhere else?
Why would you live anywhere else?
We’ve got the ocean, got the babes
Got the sun, we’ve got the waves
This is the only place for me

I fell in love with Best Coast the first time I heard “Crazy For You” on NPR’s “All Songs Considered” a couple years ago. The hosts were playing songs from the bands they were looking forward to seeing most at that year’s SXSW.

Now, two years later, Best Coast has joined the upper echelon of indie rock stardom. Cosentino even has a line of clothing with Urban Outfitters.

I first caught the band live at the 2011 Kanrocksas music festival. It was 100-plus degrees that August day, but the band sweated out a good set.

When I saw Best Coast was making a stop in Omaha to promote “The Only Place,” I knew I wanted to see the band again in a more intimate (and climate-controlled) setting.

A large crowd joined me at the Slowdown for the event.

Bethany Cosentino

Cosentino’s voice was absolutely heavenly, and hearing it live it only reinforces the decision to put it front and center on the latest record.

The four-piece band didn’t waste much time with chit-chat. They just kept playing the tunes, including all their biggest hits and a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Storms.”

Watching an extended performance, I started to feel some of the critical responses to Best Coast had merit. Namely, they have a basic musical template that does not vary much, and Cosentino’s lyrics are, well, basic, and don’t stray far from a well-worn template. In other words, too much of Best Coast in one shot can leave you feeling a bit numb.

However, with that said, I find a lot to love about the band’s template. “The Only Place” is a very enjoyable album (“How They Want Me To Be” is a favorite), and I am very curious to see where the band goes next. I hope new ground is forged, but even if it isn’t, some catchy tunes are a guarantee.

I captured a couple of videos from the Omaha performance that shows just how good Best Coast sounds live.

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