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When it first emerged in 2010, the California garage-pop band Best Coast was all primitive charm: The duo of singer-guitarist Bethany Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno used simplicity as a weapon, eschewing metaphor or nuance in favor of songs built around sentiments like "When I'm with you, I have fun" and "I wish he was my boyfriend." The hooks helped the songs verge on irresistibility, but the music was trifling by nature — songs built for the beach rather than the brain.

Cut to this year's Jon Brion-produced The Only Place, which gives Best Coast's music a pleasing coat of sparkle while highlighting the winsomeness bubbling under the surface of Cosentino's wryly cheerful delivery. ("Why I Cry," from the new album, is like a three-minute guided tour of clinical depression.) A massively accessible jewel of a pop record, complete with stridently ringing guitars and choruses suitable for singing along, The Only Place also runs a little deeper than early fans might have expected.

In this Saturday-night performance at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club on July 14, Cosentino didn't shy away from the new album's moodier material — midway through, she sings "No One Like You," "How They Want Me to Be," "Why I Cry" and "Dreaming My Life Away" back-to-back-to-back-to-back — but the overall tone remained one of smiley celebration. Buoyed by a full band, a sold-out crowd and a small throng of relentlessly enthused fans in the front row, Cosentino led Best Coast through an effervescent 20-song set spanning both of its albums, a few early singles and the Tusk-era Fleetwood Mac cover "Storms." For all the creative growth Best Coast has undergone in the past couple years, Cosentino and Bruno still know well enough to wind down a live set with the rollicking, joyful directness with which they made their names.

Set List
  • "The End"
  • "Crazy For You"
  • "Goodbye"
  • "Last Year"
  • "Summer Mood"
  • "The Only Place"
  • "No One Like You"
  • "How They Want Me To Be"
  • "Why I Cry"
  • "Dreaming My Life Away"
  • "Let's Go Home"
  • "Our Deal"
  • "When The Sun Don't Shine"
  • "Do You Love Me Like You Used To"
  • "Something In The Way"
  • "I Want To"
  • "Sun Was High (So Was I)"
  • "When I'm With You"
  • "Boyfriend"

Note: Permission limits prevent us from including Fleetwood Mac's "Storms," which Best Coast performed during this concert.

Credits

Audio engineer: Kevin Wait; Photos: Michael Katzif

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