Who doesn't want to catch a killer band before they blow up?
Ending a three-day weekend with catching a great show such as the one I was fortunate to attend by Best Coast, Cults and Slutever at The First Unitarian Church was great! On Tuesday, Sept. 7th, myself, my buddy Gabe and his cousin Bernadette shot down 95 South to University City in anticipation of catching Best Coast, one of the most talked about and consistent top 50, best-new-music list charters of 2010. It was Bernadette's first show, and I'm sure it won't be her last. Each band impressed all of us in attendance.
A young and vast crowd formed a serpentine that stretched around the side of the church. We took our spots at the end of the long line and slowly made our way to the entrance. Stepping down the concrete steps, I got my ID ready for will call and we made our way inside the basement. The basement opens up pretty wide. To the left is the soundboard and stage. Straight ahead is a set of ascending steps which lead to the bathrooms and some record crates. Bands usually set up merch tables to your immediate right, and this show was no different.
If you've ever been to The First Unitarian Church, colloquially broken down to "The Church" when mentioning one of the many venues to see concerts at in/around Philly, you can almost surely expect the following:
- A packed venue
- A cascading thirst for anything liquid---it can get very fucking hot in there
- A possible odor of bodily fluids
- A very good time
First up: Slutever. Nonchalantly, they began to play. As an avalanche of thick, fuzzy guitar toppled the crowd, the first thing noticeable, to me, was that the drumming was mildly out of time, and the guitar might not let up on building a wall of noise comprised of something like a phaser effect on full tilt. As the first song picked up and was followed by the second and third, I couldn't make out many--or really any--of the lyrics. However, none of those things I just mentioned really mattered much; Slutever has a great, youthful sound with moments reminiscent of a girl doing her best to wail yet woo us all. Not that that's the sort of thing I'm looking for all the time, but it sounded pretty cool. Fully embracing Slutever, the crowd was showing interest in every song, eagerly clapping after each number. Their fourth song played was my favorite; I still don't know the name of it, but it had a heavy, driving beat, played in maybe 1/2 time. The song may be named "Sick of Saying Sorry, Tired of Saying No." Closing that song, the female lead singer/sole guitar player commented that this is their first time playing a show in a while. Next song up was called "Pussycat."
As the show went on, the lyrics became more audible with the drums and guitar eventually equalizing, and I'm wondering if this lies more in the hands of the sound tech. At right about the sixth song in, the singer is meowing--hmmm...awesome--and this is definitely a first for any song I've ever seen while a band played live. After finishing what I thought was their last song, a familiar melody breaks across the P.A.; it's...it's...it's...Blink-182??? Yeah, whoa, they're covering "Damnit," and pretty faithfully at that.
As a recap, most of the songs are angst-loaded love songs no longer than three minutes apiece, give or take. I'm really digging this band; they're playing songs that remind you of the Ziggens, if fronted by a younger, less baritone Courtney Love--you know, when Courtney Love actually sounds good. It's best described as beach music plus lots of fuzz--with wailing--meeting poppy indie rock meets I don't know what fuck I'm talking about from the '60s and '90s. Surprisingly, the band made a lot of noise while only being a two-piece.
Next up: Cults. This band, only two songs in, displayed quite an array of talent. The attractive female lead stirred my emotions with her beautiful voice and face, too. Their second song played thumped along to a slow beat and a tremolo effect on guitar. This would fit nicely into the Pulp Fiction soundtrack... Third song in had a nice 1-2 beat and I'm picturing montages from films depicting the '60s. The keyboardist adds such a distinct atmosphere to each song. Reverb, some reverb. I almost hear early Madonna--think something similar sounding to her classic hit "Holiday." These songs have more depth than Slutever's, as in maybe they're a bit more well-rehearsed, but that's not to detract a thing away from Slutever. While there are a handful of similarities, this is no doubt a totally different sound; there are bells on the seventh (?) song played. Each song had a soul of its own, and would most likely fall between three and five minutes long. But honestly, most of my friends would vouch that I have a poor sense of time, and I wasn't minding a watch.
Finally: Best Coast. Without a doubt, they sound BETTER live than on any of their recordings. There's a common thread between the sounds of all these bands that reaches beyond the attractive female front. I've yet to pinpoint it. They opened with "Wish He Was You." Closed with "Something in the Way." The entire crowd, comprised almost entirely of hipster kids with a penchant for dressing like they've crawled out of a clothing donation bag, were rocking hard, swaying in place, and having a great time. Bethany talked to the crown a bit and one of the more memorable quotes goes as this: "There's nothing wrong with writing songs about cats, boys, and smoking weed." Encore: "Over the Ocean", "When I'm with You" and one that I wasn't sure of. Man, what a great performance. Also,I bought a pretty cool shirt from the guitarist before the show. He owed me a dollar; I never got it. That's cool, though, if it keeps Best Coast making more music, it's a dollar well, umm, donated.
In conclusion, the night started off and finished on a high note with grabbing tacos at El Rey before the show and getting the rare privilege of seeing a band live that sounds better than they do on their recordings. However, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Best Coast's indie-released material was intended to be lo-fi. Honestly, I'd easily see any of the bands that played this night again. I just wish I brought my Nikon with me. I also wouldn't be surprised if this ended up being one of the last times we see Best Coast in this particular venue.
Review originally posted at Does Like Music.