By Chris Kelly
On Tuesday night, Best Coast and Wavves returned to the 9:30 Club for their second joint-headlining tour, “Summer is Forever II.” Their first go around was in 2011, and while I didn’t see them on that tour, I saw them play the Rock and Roll Hotel (separately) the year prior. In the nearly six years since then, not much has changed, which is neither surprising nor a bad thing.
Best Coast’s music looks back lovingly on rock and pop from the last 60-something years; Wavves’ music narrows the time period to about half that. If you played Best Coast in 1966 or Wavves in 1996, neither would be out of place – and that continues to be their charm: the familiar warmth of nostalgia, even if You Weren’t There, Man for the Beach Boys or Nirvana.
As their tour name suggests, their nostalgia is also for the halcyon days of summers past. Best Coast turns those memories into a fuzzy haze where old favorites from Crazy for You melt into new ones from last year’s California Nights. On Tuesday, bandleader Bethany Cosentino showed the benefits of a half decade on the road: she captivated the sold-out crowd with a dozen-plus songs to which anyone can play or sing along, but only she could have written.
For local flavor, Cosentino described 9:30 as her “favorite music venue in all of America” and – after noting the presence of HeadCount volunteers who were registering voters – shouted out Bernie Sanders and segued into “Boyfriend.” Her real life boyfriend was up next: Nathan Williams and the rest of Wavves amped up the energy with two minute bursts of teen testosterone, all sneers and riffs and double-barreled rhythmic assault. Wavves is the full-on feedback to Best Coast’s fuzz, the sunstroke to their suntan, and the crowd responded by moshing and crowd-surfing in earnest.
The tour art on “Summer is Forever” mines another source of en vogue nostalgia: pro wrestling. Cosentino and Williams are clearly fans; the former came out to Stone Cold Steve Austin’s glass shattering-theme and the latter let out some Ric Flair woos. On the art, Cosentino is made up as The Undertaker (Snacks the Cat is Paul Bearer) and Williams is the Ultimate Warrior. Both are fitting: Best Coast might be infinitely sunnier in disposition, but they make music that’s timeless and reliable, while Wavves is louder and more brash, dipped in neon and shaking the ropes. Like summer, wrestling is forever – if you want it to be.