Live: Best Coast, Cheerfully Yearning At Mercury Lounge
The "I wish he was my boyfriend" song at SXSW.
Wednesday, April 7
"I feel like she could use a friend," notes a friend with bizarrely genuine concern, upon hearing that I'm bound to see Bethany Cosentino, a/k/a Best Coast, this early, bizarrely sweltering evening. Her defiantly direct surf-fuzz tales of loneliness and romantic woe are convincing, evidently. So. "This is a new song -- it's called 'Boyfriend,'" she announces, and I think, 'Oh, good for her,' and then the chorus is, "I wish he was my boyfriend." Other new songs unveiled tonight include "I Want You" and "Goodbye." I feel like she could use a friend.
Except she seems awful cheery up there, backed by a hirsute guitarist dude and Ali from the Vivian Girls on drums, shambling along, her voice initially hella wobbly but evening out somewhat as the quick 40-minute set progresses. (Paradoxically, she's strongest on the one song she sings alone: "It's really scary to do this by myself, but whatever, who gives a shit, right?") Her lyrics are equally blunt and unadorned (she likes rhyming lazy with crazy), but then again, "Want to kill you/But then I'd miss you" is fine use of nine words.
"I Want You" is the real grabber tonight, the line "I want you so much" repeated four times, Cosentino stretching out that IIIIIIII for all it's worth. And when the rambling, wayward-voiced lo-fi-ness of it all gets to you (this is basically like SST bubblegum or something), there's the cheerful spectacle of the singer herself, cheerfully fielding audience questions ("Where's Snacks?") (Snacks is her cat BTW) and telling some super-corny jokes. "Last night we played in Brooklyn and the air conditioner was broken," she tells us, noting the unseasonable weather. "It was more like Sweat Coast." Cue audience groans. She seems to be doing just fine on her own.