"Good music is good music, and that should be enough for anybody.” - Brad Nowell

Friday, September 24, 2010

"There's nothing wrong with writing songs about cats, boys, and smoking weed."

Who doesn't want to catch a killer band before they blow up?

Ending a 3 day weekend with catching a great show such as the one I was fortunate to attend by Best Coast, The Cults, and Slutever @ 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 younger and vast crowd serpentined 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 willcall and we made our way inside the basement. The basement opens up pretty wide. To the left is the sound board and stage. Straight ahead is a set of ascending steps of 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:

  • 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, Slutever began to play. As an avalanche of thick, fuzzy guitar toppled upon 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 gained traction and was followed by the 2nd and 3rd, 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 against, 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 4th song played was my favorite, I still don't know the name of it, 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 6th song in, the singer is meowing- hmmm...awesome- this is definitely a 1st 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, woah, they're covering Damnit, and pretty faithfully at that.

As a recap, most of the songs are angst loaded love songs no longer than 3 mins a piece, 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, meets poppy indie rock meets I don't know what fuck I'm talking about, from the 60's and 90's. Surprisingly, the band made a lot of noise while only being a 2 piece.

Next up: Cults

This band, only 2 songs in, displayed quite an array of talent. The attractive female lead stirred my emotions with her beautiful voice and face, too. Their 2nd song played thumped along to a slow beat and a tremolo effect on guitar. This would fit nicely into the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.... 3rd song in had a nice 1-2 beat and I'm picturing montages from films depicting the 60's. 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 7th(?) song played. Each song had a soul of its own, and would most likely fall between 3 and 5 mins 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, Best Coast sounds 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 "I wish he was you", and closed with "Something in the way." In between were a very decent amount of great songs. 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 crowd a bit in between songs, 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 @ El Rey before the show, seeing some friends inside, 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.


  1. Good Job Bobby, Love the lack of restraint when using profanity and you ability to catch the TRUE moment, Def not your typical and dull magazine article on bands. You actually kept my interest for more then a paragraph. Don't forget your Nikon again, I would have loved to seen some picture's.

  2. Good review Bobby ... I love that you are doing this because it isn't a snobby prospective (I'd give a snobby one.) I also agree with Tom. You should get the crowd the bands and their interaction.

  3. Thanks guys! Man, I sure do appreciate the feedback! Knowing I have an audience will be sure to keep the reviews coming. I've bought tickets for and will be checking out the Bad Religion, Social Distortion, Land of Talk, and B Foundation shows in the upcoming weeks.

    I'm pondering asking the guys from the B Foundation about doing an interview when they roll in to town. They're all super friendly, so I can't imagine it being a big deal.