Making a stop off in Northern California for two sold-out shows this month, Wavves and Best Coast brought their “Summer Is Forever II” tour to The Independent, delivering a performance that showcased each group’s unique energy. With both Southern California bands banking off the chemistry of a previous run together, the co-headline show almost seemed like a glorified encore to Noise Pop 2016 after the annual music, art and culture festival celebrated its closing night at The Indy just days before (see more Noise Pop photos from this year here).
But while the joint bill created a melange of surf-punk and beach-goth culture, the contrast proved to be rather polarizing when it came to the crowd. In what played out as two separate sets for two very different audiences, both bands’ fan bases were well-represented inside the venue. When booking a co-headlining tour, an artist’s management will often seek to bring two acts together that complement each others’ style and sound. For the most part, as proven by the wild success of these bands’ first “Summer Is Forever” tour, the show was supposed to serve as an example of how to successfully execute such a pairing. The audience during the second night, however, wasn’t as interested in that aspect as much as they were there to see one of the two co-headlining acts.
Cherry Glazerr kicked things off, leading with an opening set of hardcore, female-fronted rock that mirrored both headliners’ sound and presence. Leaning more toward Wavves’ raw punk energy, the LA four-piece made sure that Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino had her work cut out for her when it was time to follow up Clementine Creevy’s stirring performance.
Best Coast wasted no time breaking into their set shortly thereafter, with each band member taking his or her position on the dimly lit stage. Super fans shuffled toward the front of the room, and the crowd quickly became filled with brooding Cosentino look-a-likes who fed off of her articulately perfected dismay. Supported by a hirsute group of shredders, one of which was the band’s other permanent member Bobb Bruno, Cosentino crooned her heart out to a bittersweet array of surf-rock ballads. Best Coast played songs from all three of their studio albums, executing their set like clockwork as Cosentino hit her vocal pitches at a near-perfect level that exceeded her studio recordings. While the LA band didn’t say much to its Bay Area fans between each track, the crowd grew anxious in anticipation of the evening’s final set. Feeding off the obvious shift in audience energy and attention, Cosentino and her sidekicks peevishly finished off their set with the group’s ironically titled song “Bratty B”.
After a quick set break, half the crowd departed. Many audience members could be found smoking outside the venue, murmuring about the disjointed audience and their incongruous concert etiquette. For Wavves fans though, nothing seemed to phase their spirits when the surf-punk foursome eventually took the stage. Utilizing nearly all the free space that the Best Coast exodus created, they were summoned to the stage by the ethereal opening bars of “Sail to the Sun” and by mid-chorus, broke out into a sloppy pogo dance of sorts, which remained consistent throughout the performance. Wavves played a high-energy show that sparked a multitude of stage divers, some crowd-surfing shoes and an armada of blowup alien dolls that the band tossed into the crowd midway through the set. Consequently, the San Diego quartet offered a performance in stark contrast to Cherry Glazerr’s and Best Coast’s, ramping up their raw appeal as the unfeigned headliners of the evening.
Witnessing one of the last few dates on the “Summer Is Forever II” tour may have played into the overall impression both Best Coast and Wavves made on this night, but in a way, it also offered a much more individualized experience as a fan. Whether you were there to see Best Coast, Wavves or both, the show was ultimately what you made of it. The tour, which ended in Anaheim earlier this month, exemplified that summer can’t go on forever, and its last few dates solidified that fact. Either way, having the opportunity to catch these bands on one tour stop in an intimate setting was truly unique regardless of season or sentiment.