Live: Best Coast @ Thekla, Bristol

After Kurt Cobain’s death, a gathering was held where his rival, and apparent nemesis, Eddie Vedder noted that the fame of Seattle’s grunge contingency might well be down to Cobain’s genius. Whilst Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino has the same love for a melody as Cobain, her affection for surfpop and grungy chords mean that she’s more likely to attribute her band’s existence to the brilliance of Rivers Cuomo.

Best Coast play wonderful, grunge-tinged pop music: the sort that made Weezer famous, prior to their long, slow descent into irrelevance. It’s fitting, then, that Beth would pick Bristol’s own Parrington Jackson to open tonight, as the influences of grunge, its forebears and offspring, run deep in their music.

It’s a source of personal intrigue and delight for FFS to see Parrington Jackson play under a rising indie star at Bristol’s ‘best’ venue, as we worked with the drummer for two years. This intrigue was only intensified by the fact that this was the first time we’d actually seen Parrington Jackson live (sorry Shane).

They provided a fitting opener for the main attraction, with throbbing baselines and delicate, ethereal melodies underwritten by fierce drum beats and fuzzy chords. Songs such as ‘Drapes’, ‘Scarred Lust’ and ‘Think Like Them’ placed the band’s sound somewhere between American alternative rock and more melancholic Britpop.

We were reminded of the criminally underrated Mansun, they of ‘Wide Open Space(s)’ fame.  Attack of the Grey Lantern put Mansun at the top of the UK album chart in 1997, and whilst it might be ambitious to expect Parrington Jackson to achieve the same success, they’re certainly moving in the right direction.

It has been suggested amongst fans and reporters that Cosentino could be this generation’s Courtney Love: a totem of feminine indie to be held up against her male counterparts. Though she lacks Love’s fiery, aggressive, sexual charisma, what she does have are tunes, and plenty of them.

Songs such as ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘When I’m With You’ lift the audience into a dreamy state, their swaying hands locked in unison by Best Coast’s characteristically razor-sharp hooks. A few new songs hold the audience on a high emotional plane and offer promise for the second album, due for release later this year.

In David Fincher’s The Social Network Jesse Eisenberg remarks, “I think if your clients want to stand on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have a right to give it a try”. Even if Bethany Cosentino were to stand on the shoulders of Rivers Cuomo, she still wouldn’t be able to call herself tall. And why would she want to? She’s standing pretty damn high all by herself.

Words: Damien Girling
Photo: parttimemusic