Keep off the Grass

Keep off the Grass

Best Coast
Mojo, Liverpool
Wednesday, August 31 2011

My first gig in Liverpool in what seems like forever is in Mojo, which makes for a better gig venue than it does club night. The band I’m supposed to be seeing, Stealing Sheep, are not actually playing tonight, so technically I don’t have to write this review.

I could write about the wonderful orange sunset glowing across the River Mersey on the train into Liverpool. I could muse upon the range of world beers that Mojo supplies. I could detail the massive barney the couple behind us had. They were drunk and she was complaining about one of his friends not liking her for no apparent reason and then they yelled some more and he said that if she carried on bitching then he wouldn’t be her boyfriend anymore and she cried about how he’d been cheating on her for three years whereas she’d only cheated on him once. I don’t know how it ended because the music started.

Spectrals open, as they did on Best Coast’s last UK tour in April, and like then they are not particularly distinctive. They play their brand of mid-tempo, low-fi pop and don’t stop for too much between song banter, except to introduce one of their songs as "being about girls. And kissing girls." Perhaps if Avi Buffalo had’ve said it, it would’ve been awkward in a cute way. The way Spectrals says it is awkward in a VERY AWKWARD way. Maybe I just need to listen to more of their records to get them.

West Coast’s Best Coast enter with Bethany C looking good in a vintage white blouse, flowery red high-waist skirt, fishnets, black knee-high socks and a brown hat. I couldn’t see her shoes. She reveals how she loves guys singing the words to 'Boyfriend', prompting males in the front row to profess their love for guitarist Bobb Bruno, who subsequently refuses to take his shirt off.

If anything, it sounds a little anaemic compared to the rollicking version they did in Manchester a few months ago, and nobody stage invades, thus demonstrating further evidence of how MANCHESTER IS WAY BETTER THAN LIVERPOOL! Still, their reverb-drenched summer singles sound decent enough, although there’s not a lot tonight that is too different from the record.

Bethany riffs with the crowd for a bit (which includes a very twitchy guy stood next to me with two cameras, which I felt was excessive) and hands out her tambourine for the front row to play. Topics discussed include the usual drunkenness and getting high, as well as preferring smaller club venues to their recent festival appearances.

Things are slowed down with 'Our Deal': "# I wish you’d tell me how you really feel / But you’ll never tell me 'cause that’s not our deal #" is the dilemma at hand, and I think back to the couple earlier on and the idea that everything would be easier if people just talked to one another. I’d like to find a girl, move to the east coast and form a Best Coast covers band called Beast Coast.

Nostalgia trips and regret are rife with Beth singing "# I want to go back to the first time, the first place #" (‘I Want To’) and "# I wish I could go back to when I was seventeen and I wouldn’t have been so mean #" (‘Each and Every Day’). This sentimentality is taken to the max with a disappointing closing cover of Blink 182’s ‘Dammit’.

Whether Best Coast's popularity amongst the UK indie crowd will be prolonged past their debut album remains to be seen. This is the third time they’ve toured these shores in the past twelve months and one recalls We Are Scientists milking their success amongst British audiences before disappearing down the hatch. The oh-so-difficult second album surely requires something as killer as ‘Boyfriend’, ‘Crazy for You’ and ‘When I’m with You’, but for now their live shows are maintaining the buzz. Just.

words: Ste Grindrod