Free Energy/Best Coast/Loose Limbs
South Street Seaport
Friday, July 23
At tonight’s free River to River fete, as with pretty much every outdoor show these days, you had a choice: melt in the sun or drown in the rain. But as you know by now, New York has a talent for concocting a disgusting combination of the two, resulting in yet another balmy, purple-clouded limbo. Brooklyn-via-Minneapolis trio Loose Limbs’ dark strain of punk-infused rock ramped up the momentum for Best Coast; the sun was still blazing for the L.A. trio’s set, Bethany Cosentino hiding behind flesh-toned Ray-Bans, which she also likes to do indoors. “Never use a towel onstage,” she advised us, removing a slather of sweat from her face with one. “Sexy!” someone shouted. “Do you want it?” she asked. But she kept it, probably because she’d need it.
With regards to Best Coast’s new Crazy for You, “Download it, buy it… don’t buy it. Do whatever the fuck you want,” its primary creator instructed us, this after declaring at another recent New York show that she illegally downloads “all the time.” Cosentino also uses the word “fuck” so frequently and cheerfully it might as well be “aloha,” as when she addressed the humidity by asking, yes, “What the fuck?” A few curse words, a free show, and a laid-back performer whose songs shine live (her voice’s flexible, yodel-like potential comes through more clearly face-to-face) are three good ways to encourage record sales, though the crowd knew the words to most of the songs already. Must be from that stream on Urban Outfitters’ website.
Later, when the weather turned cooler but weirder — the ominous clouds, the near-full moon swathed in a haze and hanging over a ship — many of the folks who seemed to covet Cosentino’s sweaty towel appeared to be swooning over Free Energy lead singer Paul Sprangers as well. There was a great deal of grinning “Me? Was he just pointing at me?” action down in the front row; Sprangers does point a lot, sometimes to the heavens, sometimes to a vague mass of rapt humans. (If only “sprangers” were a word, because it captures the way he moves, with a winsome Shaun White manicness.) The venue perfectly suited the arena-ready quality of Free Energy’s warm, nostalgic rock; the friendly bunch even took a moment to shout out the half-interested onlookers on the balcony of Pizzeria Uno. They’re a toothsome group all around — with their bandannas and poufy locks, the guitarists both looked and sounded like they could be in Journey, and wouldn’t mind you saying so, if they could even hear you over the cowbell.