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Posted at 3:22 PM ET, 02/ 1/2011

In concert: Best Coast and Wavves at 9:30 Club

By Chris Richards

best coastNeo-grunge lovebirds Nathan Williams (Wavves) and Bethany Cosentino (Best Coast) played at 9:30 Club on Monday. It was OK, dude. (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

The '90s are back, and along with flannel, environmentalism and 20-something ennui, the resurgence has brought some great self-deprecating rock songs.

Best Coast and Wavves are responsible for the best of them. The two young bands performed at the 9:30 Club on Monday night, singing about California boredom and slacker romance - the latter made all the more intriguing by the fact that Best Coast singer Bethany Cosentino and Wavves singer Nathan Williams are a couple.

And while the neo-grunge lovebirds have both toured doggedly (and separately) in support of their both-excellent 2010 albums, Monday's gig proved that neither act has quite figured out how to translate the heroic loserdom of their recordings to the stage.

Still, these losers have been wildly successful.

best coastBest Coast's Bethany Cosentino is finding her inner Pretender.

This tour was co-sponsored by MTV and Spin Magazine. Monday's show was streamed live on NPR. Last year, the duo penned a Christmas song for Target and Cosentino was commissioned to record a tune for Converse. And on Monday afternoon, Best Coast filmed a performance on "The Late Show with David Letterman," where she Tweeted backstage photos of her and fellow guest Justin Bieber, officially making it impossible to sell out in the 21st century.

But that didn't stop Monday night's gig from resurrecting the vibes of a good-old Clinton-era rock show. Couples made out to the squall of heavily distorted guitars. Parents chaperoned fresh-faced teens with watchful eyes. Plastic cups were chucked toward the stage, crowd surfers floated on a sea of helping hands and overzealous stage-divers took gnarly spills.

The music was almost exciting enough to warrant it.

During Best Coast's headlining set, Cosentino summoned some Chrissie Hynde-ish verve, bending her deadpan lyrics ever so slightly. And when you can inject a little soul into a line like, "I lost my job, I miss my mom, I wish my cat could talk, " you're growing.

Many of Cosentino's songs clung to the same tempo, but she wisely broke up the set with new songs "Sunny Adventure" (fast) and "When You Wake Up" (slow), and a spartan cover of Loretta Lynn's "Fist City."

Wavves' opening set was louder, rowdier, sloppier and more annoying. The trio took the stage to the "X-Files" theme music and promptly kicked a dozen beach balls into the crowd while Williams donned two large chains made of fake gold. (Maybe Target doesn't pay what we think.)

Between the angsty punch of "King of the Beach" and the distorted slop of "To the Dregs," Williams bantered incessantly, presumably keeping the NPR employee in charge of muting profanities from the live stream very, very busy.

Where Best Coast was a little flat, Wavves was a lotta mess - with both acts relying a little too heavily on their cool, shoulder-shrugging charms.

But in the increasingly fickle world of contemporary indie rock, those charms may only last so long. Instead of cashing in on their undeniable talents through endorsement deals, it's time that both Cosentino and Williams summon a little desperation and start cashing in onstage.

"To take on the world would be something," Williams sang halfway though his set, beach balls bouncing across the crowd.

It really would.

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By Chris Richards  | February 1, 2011; 3:22 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  Best Coast, Wavves  
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Still undecided on which of these two I find more obnoxious.

Posted by: azaghal1981 | February 1, 2011 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I enjoyed the show, though maybe not the unmentioned first band, No Joy. I hoped that Best Coast would really wow me, which they didn't do in September at the R&R Hotel. They were better, but not wow-worthy. If you don't know the lyrics, they were rather cryptic, and the guitar tended to get lost in the mix. Good, but they can do better.

I got home and lo and behold, there was Best Coast on Letterman. Why was Bethany Cosentino dolled up in her best party dress for that? Odd.

Posted by: MyPostID27 | February 2, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse

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