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Best Coast closes Chaos' subtler side

Two years after SXSW sets, singer tells Emo's East crowd, ‘We owe everything to Austin'

Peter Mongillo
Best Coast has changed since its first Austin shows at South by Southwest in 2010. The band has had a quick rise as it's evolved from rock to honest and catchy pop songs.

When Bethany Consentino and Bob Bruno, the core members of Southern California indie pop band Best Coast, first performed in Austin at South by Southwest in 2010, the band's popular full-length debut, "Crazy For You," had yet to be released.

One of the shows they played that week was the Pitchfork day party at Emo's. Consentino talked about drinking at 10 a.m., and the band was a bit of a different animal — skewing more toward the rock side of the garage world than the pop they'd move toward over the next two years, with Consentino's vocals and guitar playing more punk than anything else.

Though just a tiny span of time when it comes to band development, that SXSW two years ago seems ages away from where Best Coast is today, or was Sunday night (or very early Monday morning) at Emo's East as part of the Chaos in Tejas festival.

"We owe everything to Austin," Consentino said from the stage, "We played our first shows at South by Southwest."

Whether that's true — Consentino's honest and deceptively catchy pop songs probably have more to do with it than anything — the press from that fest certainly couldn't have hurt the band. What isn't up for debate is their lightning rise, in part evidenced by the current state of their tour: somewhere between 500-800 fans, a light show, plenty of smoke, a bigger band than the original three-piece crew. And it comes on the heels of a second album that, despite its release on the relatively small indie label Mexican Summer, has no doubt found its way on to more iPods and the like than Consentino ever thought likely. Consentino also designed a line of clothing for Urban Outfitters, for whatever that's worth.

And with that success, the band's ability to perform their music has grown as well. Consentino was tired — it was the last show of their tour. She wasn't thrilled about having to play at 12:30 a.m., as she mentioned a couple of times, but she still managed to muster up enough energy to keep things moving, swaying back and forth as the band delivered a set that began with "The Only Place," the title track from the new album and a theme song of sorts for the band.

The Beach Boys' brand of surf pop was "fun" despite the best effort of parents or whatever else teenagers rebel against, while Consentino's is more inward looking, at once at peace with the California sun and darkly sarcastic about the state of the world around her.

Despite having to restart a song during the show, the band closed out the less-chaotic end of Chaos in Tejas in fine fashion. Guitarist Bruno more than made up for any tour fatigue on Consentino's part, contrasting and complementing his bandmate with his versatile playing, including highlight "Let's Go Home," where he cut through punchy indie rock with psychedelic flourishes. Not exactly Chaos, but maybe a distant cousin. Given the way the band has evolved, who knows what they'll bring back in another two years.

Contact Peter Mongillo at 445-3696