Best Coast, JEFF the Brotherhood, and Those Darlins at the Cedar, 7/28/12

Best Coast, JEFF the Brotherhood, and Those Darlins at the Cedar, 7/28/12
Photo By Erik Hess

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SoundTown and Minnesota's music festival fatigue

Best Coast, JEFF the Brotherhood, and Those Darlins
Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis
Saturday, July 28, 2012

SoundTown's loss was Minneapolis's gain on Saturday night, as scheduled festival participants Best Coast, JEFF the Brotherhood, and Those Darlins brought their show inside to the Cedar instead of the canceled outdoor festivities at Somerset. And while the sold-out crowd was clearly excited to see this previously unplanned triple-bill in the intimate space of the Cedar, most of the show itself failed to live up to the hype and expectations of the legions of fans clamoring to find a way in to the small venue.

Those Darlins opened the night, which represented the last evening of their current tour with Best Coast. And while their set was feisty and enjoyable, the absence of founding member Kelley Anderson (who left the band earlier this year) certainly affected the band's rambunctious, untamed spirit and sound. The venue choice also might have had something to do with their rather restrained set as well, as the band is far more suited to a rowdy rock club like the Triple Rock or the Entry rather than the sedate, relaxed nature of the Cedar.

Best Coast, JEFF the Brotherhood, and Those Darlins at the Cedar, 7/28/12
Photo By Erik Hess

But the songs themselves still bristled with a vibrancy that ultimately makes their excellent recent record, Screws Get Loose, so refreshing and rewarding, and their 40-minute set drew mostly from that album. Their decidedly throwback sound is reminiscent of the Runaways, especially when things get loud, as both Jessi and Nikki Darlin lead the way with their catchy riffs and candid, no-nonsense lyrics.

Their songs feature a raucous blend of infectious garage-rock with the indelible country sound that permeates their hometown of Nashville, and Those Darlins certainly deliver a modern blend of both within every performance. It's just that they need to return to a rock club next time they come to town, and find some way to replace the unbridled energy of their former band member.

Fellow Nashvillians JEFF the Brotherhood were up next, and fit seamlessly on the bill, as they had opened up for Best Coast during their first leg of their current U.S. tour. The two-piece brought a smoke machine with them (the first time I've seen one used at the Cedar) as well as a bunch of insanely catchy, crunchy guitar riffs and a pounding rhythm that got the full-house rocking.

Best Coast, JEFF the Brotherhood, and Those Darlins at the Cedar, 7/28/12
Best Coast, JEFF the Brotherhood, and Those Darlins at the Cedar, 7/28/12
Photos By Erik Hess

Frontman Jake Orrall wields a clear, acrylic guitar, which matches his brother Jamin's clear drum kit, and straight from the lengthy instrumental start of their blistering 35-minute set, it's clear that the two of them are locked in, as they deliver a crushing performance that proves to be far and away the highlight of the night. "Country Life,""Mystic Portal II,""Heavy Days," and the slacker-anthem set closer, "Mellow Out" all were delivered with a rowdy sonic punch that not only was one of the louder sets that the Cedar has seen recently, it was also clearly one of the best.

Sadly, rather than quickly building on the momentum that JEFF the Brotherhood had built up, headliners Best Coast made the packed room wait 40 minutes before their set started, even with the band reusing Those Darlins drum kit for their performance. So the crowd was impatient and restless by the time Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno finally took to the stage, flanked by an unintroduced drummer and bassist/guitarist. And in the end, that interminable wait proved impossible to overcome, especially when combined with a rather listless 70-minute set filled with Best Coast's simple but somewhat directionless songs.

Cosentino has grown more confident as a frontwoman since their 2011 show at the Varsity Theater, and while the new songs featured on their recent release, The Only Place, found the band exploring new directions with their sound, the repetitive nature of their songs grew old as the set wore on. Towards the end of the show, Cosentino even joked, "At least pretend like you're having a good time," with the people up front, but in actuality, a good part of the crowd were just bored, as Best Coast's songs about California, love, and loving California just failed to resonate all that much.

Best Coast, JEFF the Brotherhood, and Those Darlins at the Cedar, 7/28/12
Photo By Erik Hess

The sound was also a bit muddy, which didn't really help matters much, as the simple melodies didn't really distinguish themselves enough from track to track. It wasn't until Bethany switched to bass on the defiant ballad, "How They Want Me To Be," before the set found any semblance of life, and the group built on that with a strong, lively version of "Let's Go Home" which was a clear highlight of the performance. Best Coast's more mellow material were actually the best moments of the show, as the tender ode to the emotions that leave us sleepless, "Up All Night," ended the main portion of the set in a stirring fashion.

Rather than take a planned encore, the band stayed on stage and finished the set with a string of five more songs, including an impassioned, gorgeous cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Storms," followed by a rambunctious version of "When I'm With You." Cosentino warned early in the set when someone requested "Boyfriend" that the song, "Doesn't come until the end. You got to wait that shit out, my friend." And indeed, "Boyfriend" came at the end, but by that point it seemed rather anti-climatic and forced, and never approached the blissful longing of the original. And that seems to be a lingering problem with Best Coast, that their albums remain a pleasant, if a bit trifling, listen, but their live shows continue to lack a spark which makes them all that memorable.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I was excited to see all three bands coming into the show, but I think from here on out JEFF the Brotherhood is the only group I'll seek out live again.

The Crowd: A strange mix of fans of all three bands, as well as a bunch of drunk, pushy concertgoers who sadly ruined the show for a lot of people.

Overheard In The Crowd: I'm still trying to forget most of the stupid shit people yelled out during Best Coast's set.

Random Notebook Dump: Due to the triple-bill, the merch stand at the Cedar was packed with as many t-shirts and albums as I've ever seen there.

Best Coast Setlist:

The End

Crazy For You


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

Do You Love Me Like You Used To

Something In The Way

Up All Night

I Want To

Sun Was High (So Was I)

Storms (Fleetwood Mac)

When I'm With You


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