As part of Northside Festival’s showcase at 50 Kent, California natives Best Coast and Idaho’s Built to Spill shared the main sets with support from Alvvays and Best Coast tour opener Bully. Starting off the music with Tennessee singer Alicia Bognanno’s quartet Bully, the singer brought a Joan Jett-esque powerful feminine energy, backed by her highly enthusiastic backup band. With lyrical references to her period and her own sexuality, the singer shows a self-awareness in regards to being a frontwoman of a band and takes it to its fullest extent with harsh, raspy vocals. Once they left the stage, indie pop group Alvvays took the stage with their more muted palette of alternative rock. Based around the vocal combo of singer Molly Rankin and keyboardist Kerri MacLellan, Alvvays’ sound is laden with infectious hooks, adorable choruses, and themes that often stray in a more mature, adult realm. In simplest terms, it’s essentially Manic Pixie Dream-core, with darling tunes like “Archie, Marry Me” and “Party Police” that could easily underscore the latest Zooey Deschanel film. With their debut self-titled record released in 2014, the band played a new track called “Haircut“ for the Northside crowd. Shortly after, 90s alt rock group Built to Spill played the first half of the main sets for the night. With a highly polarizing sound, the band seemed out of place with a lineup consisting of three female-led, far more accessible groups whose careers began in the 21st century. Built to Spill’s brash, masculine sensibility to 90s indie both turned off many fans waiting for Best Coast, but also invited a menagerie of truly deplorable fans. From the comedian of the year behind me yelling “FREE BIRD” in between every single song, to the major Built to Spill fan who shoved his way onto the barricade (in spite of people having claimed their spots since the opening act) just to give his regards to lead singer Doug Martsch, before being pushed back and yelling “Do you even know what the name of this band is?!?!” to the people that claimed their spots rightfully instead of clamoring their way through the crowd like a rhinoceros on amphetamines. Perhaps it was also the 10-minute extended jam sessions between the three guitarists due to the band’s need to fill time or the brash, over the top sound of the band, or even the fact that much of the band looked like they could be the dads of half the audience, the group wasn’t particularly well received by anyone who didn’t come there specifically for them. However, where credit is due, the band has been a major influence on some of my personal indie favorites like Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse. At the end of the night, main headliner Best Coast delivered the hype with their brand of sunny, California indie pop. Lead by vocalist Bethany Consentino and guitarist Bobb Bruno, the band expanded recently into a quintet after the release of the band’s record “California Nights.” Adding guitarist/keyboardist Joe Bautista to the roster, Consentino was freed up to perform as a true lead singer, picking up her guitar only on certain tracks. Where in the past, she was confined to mostly singing while playing guitar, Consentino seems to be developing and repurposing her stage presence, while definitely channeling some Stevie Nicks vibes and picking up a tambourine and moving about the stage. As well as, the addition of Brett Mielke on backing vocals to add to the harmonies in live performance as on the records. Playing the most of her discography, the singer played some of the bigger singles off her latest record “California Nights” as well as, mini-album “Fade Away”, sophomore record “The Only Place” and her massive tracks off of lo-fi debut record “Crazy for You” finishing the set with “Boyfriend” which she announced as “the song you’ve all been waiting for.”

Bully

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Alvvays

 

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Best Coast

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