Tag Archives: punk

Tourist in My Backyard: Best Coast @ the US Open

9 Aug

Courtesy of the beautiful Lisa Aoyagi

I absolutely adore Best Coast. Their angst-driven lyrics about unrequited love and the pitfalls of dating make me wish I had their tunes to comfort me when I was in high school. And “Summer Mood” epitomizes California garage-pop and makes me feel understood and close to home even when I’m in a far-off land.

When I heard they were playing a free show at the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach I had to play hooky from work – there was no way I was going to sit in an office when I could have a quintessential Orange County experience in Surf City, USA. Best Coast didn’t go on until 5:30 PM so we made a day of it. The cooler was full of Blue Moons and my flask was full of vodka. We parked miles away from the beach in a residential area to avoid the insanely inflated event parking fees and sipped our libations as we walked to the beach.

The US Open itself was pretty anti-climatic, even though we stood on the wet shore just a few yards from the action. The beach was packed with locals, tourists and teeny-boppers, who couldn’t have been older than 16 and were wearing unflattering and uncalled-for Brazilian-cut bathing suits with obnoxious writing all over their bodies proudly displaying their phone numbers or the words “free hugs”, “single” or some kind of ridiculous hash tag. I prayed to God I would not run into my 18-year-old sister because if I saw her dressed like that I would have to bury her in the sand until I could find her a cover-up.

Just before the show started we left the half-naked kiddie display to grab a drink on Main Street. We ended up at Sharkeez and ordered Long Island Iced-Teas that tasted like lemonade and cost $8. Do not go there. The chips were stale and the $7 shots weren’t even an ounce. Thank God for my flask…

When it was time we joined the herd and pushed our way through the massive, tightly packed crowd from the side of the stage and tried our best to get as close to the front as we could. The crowd waited anxiously for the threesome to appear and wailed as lead singer Bethany Cosentino started strumming her guitar. Do not be fooled by Best Coast’s surfer-stoner vibe or they’re less than perfect acoustic renditions – they have serious talent and are even better live because you can hear the full depth of their sound. Their “I Want To” and “Boyfriend” performances made me fall in love with these songs even harder because I got to feel them and at one point I found myself dancing so hard I bumped into my poor neighbors.

Best Coast is moody, melodic and punky but watching them perform as I swayed, singing along with sand between my toes, felt like the proper way to experience this band. Their name is Best Coast after-all and here we were – on the coast.

Black Lips @ The Galaxy

25 Nov

(Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 19th, 2011 for OC Music Magazine)

There wasn’t a moment during the Black Lips show at the Galaxy last Sunday when a fan didn’t jump onstage. They weaved in and out of the mics, kissed the lead singers, and danced, before diving into the crowd so hard their shoes went flying.

They threw their bras onstage, stole the mic and sang, and took off their shirts and swung them over their heads. Security guards looked the other way, but if someone hung around too long, they’d push them back into the crowd or escort them off stage by their arms and legs.

The high energy was so infectious that even singer/guitarist Cole Alexander stage-dived, bringing his guitar with him. It felt as though there were no rules, and the song “Bad Kids,” off the Good Bad Not Evil album, seemed to be the night’s anthem.

The Black Lips formed in Atlanta, Georgia back in 2000 and in eleven years they’ve put out six albums – each different from the last. These Southern boys, who describe their sound as “flower punk,” are far more punk than flower, though their recordings would have you believe otherwise. Their psychedelic, country, doo wop, and indie influences never seem to overpower their true punk nature, but you’d only know this if you saw them play live. They’re the kind of band that has to be experienced with all the senses – maybe that’s why over fifteen girls ran onstage to steal kisses during the show.

By the time it was over, everyone in the pit was drenched in sweat – their faces flushed, and grinning from ear to ear. It was the experience teen-aged punks have wet dreams about, but you had to be twenty-one to get in.

Inspired by the anarchist mood of the evening, I seized the opportunity to sneak backstage when I saw the door to its entrance swing open and the security guard walk away. Read on for the post-show interview with bassist/singer Jared Swilley:

A: So how do you feel about all these girls jumping on stage and trying to kiss you?

J: (He laughs) Well, tonight my girlfriend was on stage behind me but I always try to pull away from it anyway.

A: What’s your favorite part of performing?

J: Usually when the show’s over, that’s best part. It’s a good feeling. I didn’t have much schooling but its like if you take an exam and you know you aced it, and you’re done with it, it’s like there’s no more cramming or studying – you’re done.

A: What’s been your favorite place to perform so far?

J: In the world? Oh, that’s hard to say. There’s so many places – I guess New York is cool, and Tokyo. Big cities, they’re fun. Small towns are fun too. We’re not really in a small town right now though so…

A: Well it’s Orange County so it’s kind of like the greater LA area…

J: Yeah. It’s cool here. I like the youth of Orange County. They’re like real punk – I enjoy it.

A: I saw you guys perform at the El Rey on Valentine’s Day like four years ago and this show was completely different. It was much more of a punk scene. Everyone was jumping onstage and I feel like last time it was more…

J: Well the El Rey is kind of strict. But yeah, Orange County is fun.

A: How do you feel about people jumping on stage? Do you ever get worried, because they’re hitting your mic and…

J: I like it, the only thing I worry about it, sometimes, is I don’t have dental insurance so like the mic is right there but I’m really good at balancing it with my knee, so when I see someone running I catch it real quick. But you don’t want a mic in your mouth because then your teeth are out.

A: Yeah, and it ruins the whole show.

J: And it’s a lot of money.

A: What’s your least favorite part of touring?

J: I guess the no sleep part kind of sucks. Touring is really fun. The only bad parts of it are like what’s shitty about anybody’s day. Like oh, I’m tired, I have to wake up. So it’s not really shitty at all.

A: Does it ever get to the point where it feels like a job?

J: No, this is the most bullshit job. It’s the most awesome job.

(The lead singer of Bleached walks up)

J: I’m really glad you guys got to play tonight.

B: I know, it’s the best. I lost my voice.

J: I can’t believe I have my voice still. Losing your voice, that’s what sucks about touring.

A: What’s your remedy?

J: Well I learned it from a long line of old soul singers from Atlanta. Mighty Hannibal taught me this trick that he and James Brown and Sam Cooke used to do. It’s just white vinegar and cayenne pepper and you shake it up and gargle it before you sing. It’s not a cure-all but it’ll get you through. And boiled ginger, that works well. I just boil ginger all day and drink the water. It’s good.

A: You guys are from Georgia. How do you think that affected the development of your sound?

J: I grew up with a lot of gospel and like country music and my father is a preacher and I grew up in the church, like singing and so I guess just like traditional music. I actually live in California now. The other guys live in Atlanta. I’m a Californian.

A: What do you think? It’s very different, right?

J: It’s cool. It’s just a different vibe. I don’t know, Southerners are different from Californians. There’s no Southerners here – I haven’t met one yet. But it’s cool, endless summer, I dig it. Tacos…

(A guy comes up and asks if Jared would make his boyfriend’s dream true and take a picture with him.)

(“Of course,” Jared says, and makes sure he’s given me enough of his time before he leaves.)

J: Alex?…

A: Yes?

J: It was a pleasure meeting you.

He shakes my hand and walks away.

What a Southern gent…

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