Noise Pop Show Review: Best Coast, Wavves, Hunx and His Punx, Royal Baths at the Regency Ballroom, 2/26/2011

by Jason LeRoy on February 28, 2011

Bethany Cosentino lets it rip. Photos by David Price.

Best Coast and Wavves played the final night of their Summer is Forever tour as part of Noise Pop on Saturday night. It was a sold-out affair that proved to be one of the biggest draws of the festival. Some might say it was oversold. Others might agree, but are presumably still too high to form complete thoughts.

Rather than faking a review of them, I will freely admit that I missed Royal Baths because I was at a Benihana birthday dinner in Japantown. And I don’t regret it. I’m sure Royal Baths were great, but Benihana is a magical place.

And that was one of the strange (and strangely nice) things about this show: things happened on time. When I saw such a party-band lineup, I was convinced everyone would be rocking out until at least 1. But instead, we got four garage/surf/punk bands playing very succinct sets of very short songs. I mean, seriously: the advertised start time was 8pm. I got there at exactly 9:05. And by that time, I’d missed Royal Baths and nearly all of Hunx and His Punx.

I was especially bummed to have missed most of Hunx’s set, because I loooooove him. This was also my first time seeing his new kick-ass all-girl backing band. But something seemed slightly off about him. He was totally Hunx’d out in a tiny leather jacket over a bare chest and skintight leopard-print tights, but he seemed almost shy, despite his exhibitionist trappings. Maybe it was performing so early that was throwing him. Or maybe everything just seemed to be moving more slowly because walking into the ballroom from the lobby was like falling off a cliff into a bong.

Anyway, Wavves was on next.

Nathan Williams of Wavves

Once again, not gonna lie: I missed most of Wavves. I went into the lobby to get a rapefully priced beer ($7.50 for a little plastic cup? What is this, a strip club?) between sets, then ran into a pack of my favorite lesbians, and one thing led to another (and by that, I mean I waited while they stood in the crazy-making bathroom line).

But eventually we returned to the ballroom with about four songs left in the Wavves set (I’m telling you, these sets were flying by). The song they were playing when we walked in had the exact same guitar riff as “Fuckin’ Perfect” by Pink. True story. If there was a pot-triggered energy lull in the room, Wavves managed to avoid it: they were bratty, thrashy, and jaggedly intense. At the end of their set, Nathan Williams violently whipped his guitar through the drum set. What a bad-ass! Or dumb-ass. Not sure which. Maybe both? [UPDATE: apparently I missed some Wavves drama?]

And then, Best Coast.

My eyes are up here, buddy.

Singer/guitarist Bethany Cosentino, bassist Bobb Bruno, and drummer Ali Koehler blazed through a set of pretty much every song they’ve ever recorded, as well as a cover of Loretta Lynn’s timeless bitchfight classic “Fist City,” and a new song that Bethany fucked up the first time because, as she said, “I smoked too much fucking weed today.” The crowd was sympathetic.

There was an emotionally charged sense of finality about the performance, since it was the closing night of the Summer is Forever tour Best Coast and Wavves have been on for the last five weeks. “It snowed in L.A. today,” Bethany mused in her Belinda Carlisle-meets-Jenny Lewis way. “So I guess it’s appropriate that this is the end of Summer is Forever.”

Bobb Bruno is struck violently on the back of his head.

Best Coast played a thoroughly crowd-pleasing set that barely paused between songs, except when it started to become clear that each member of the band had a different set list. This led to one of the more amusing moments of the evening, when Bethany suggested a set change because “that [next] song sounds too much like the one we just played.”

Granted, she could have probably said that about almost any song they’ve recorded, but I’m not complaining. There’s something so dreamy and shimmering about even their most formulaic songs. And most interestingly, Cosentino seems to have effortlessly transcended the girl-singer ghetto. Despite being two-thirds female, Best Coast are not categorized as a chick band. And the crowd, which appeared to be fairly bro-heavy, was feeling them just as hard (or even harder) than the much more aggro Wavves.

And so, Forever has come to an end. But we’ll always have our misty (bong)water-colored memories.

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