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Review: Best Coast and Mannequin Pussy @ The Showbox

Posted by March 23rd, 2020 No Comments »

Best Coast and Mannequin Pussy Live @ The Showbox
March 4, 2020 in Seattle
Review by Marika Malaea; Photos by Jake Hanson

On the day King County Health Department issued a warning against hanging out in community groups of more than ten, we walked into The Showbox with a couple hundred strangers for Mannequin Pussy and Best Coast, clutching a travel-sized bottle of Purell and hoping for the best. 

Whoever smashed these two bands together for the Always Tomorrow tour deserves a thousand high-fives from some thoroughly-washed hands. Sometimes the opener is a local nobody or wildly different from the main event (thinking of Big Freedia’s twerktastic bouncefest before the monochromatic electro-pop sounds of Postal Service), but these female-fronted bands were complementary in ways that felt cohesive while lighting up their differences. 

Mannequin Pussy was up first. Lead singer and guitarist Marisa Dabice did her patented best to breathe fire and fury over a crowd of what I hoped was healthy locals. One thing I love about Dabice is her ability to howl with blinding, focused rage in one terrifying moment and hold a delicate note in the next. The band’s 2019 album, Patience, was the perfect showcase for her flexible range and vocal lightning; they also performed a lot from their 2016 sophomore album, Romantic.

The four-piece — Dabice, guitarist Athanasios Paul, bassist Colins Rey Regisford, and drummer Kaleen Reading — got behind their songs with enormous riffs, lots of momentum, and gorgeous harmonies. This translated nicely into a live pop-punk show that was edgy, engaging, and full of energy.

“Are you guys really running out of toilet paper?”

In between songs, Dabice touched on the virus and spoke a bit about fear (more like “fear will ruin us all” over “fear the virus”) and thanked people for coming out anyway. At some point, I forgot about the hand sanitizer and rocked out to a song called “Clams,” which felt both silly and very on-brand for Seattle.

“Meatslave One” blew everyone’s hair back, and the mom in me wondered how Dabice takes care of her vocal cords on tour with such epic throat-shredding. The whole performance showed how solid Mannequin Pussy is as a band, and how they’re expanding the boundaries of punk rock. 

Best Coast – normally the power duo of singer/guitarist Bethany Cosentino and guitarist Bobb Bruno, but this time with a backing band – started their set with 2015’s popular “California Nights” off the album of the same name, which was the first song I ever heard from them on the radio. After the bombastic flavor of Mannequin Pussy, it seemed right to kick off the show with something slower for contrast. The album that Best Coast is touring — Always Tomorrow, released last month — is hard evidence that Cosentino’s songwriting skills have grown exponentially. And her voice — that sweet but not syrupy texture, the positive melancholy tinged with a steady Sixties beach vibe — was still so enchanting live. When I asked my husband what “Always Tomorrow” meant, he said “Never yesterday.”

While people danced around us – okay, not actual dancing, it was the Seattle Public Foot Shuffle – all I could do was stare at the true unspoken star of the show: the hair of guitarist Bobb Bruno. This was #hairbandhairgoals in the flesh, a mesmerizing waterfall of rocker hair perfectly situated in front of a fan, which gave an undulating, oceanic movement to his hair’s onstage performance. Through bouncy indie pop songs like “Different Light,” “Seeing Red” and “Wreckage,” Bruno’s hair demanded an audience. The way it was backlit, and how it moved like a wacky waving inflatable tube man in slo-mo – it was mesmerizing. I took multiple videos of it in between going to the bar and rounds of Purell.

After playing the Weezer-esque song “Everything Has Changed,” Cosentino noted that the whole venue smelled like hot dogs. “And speaking of hot dogs, we’re gonna play some romantic slow songs,” she said, going right into “Our Deal,” a dreamy, downtempo beach-pop song.

As a fan of terrible car and shower singing, I love that Best Coast songs – fast, midtempo, or slow – are imminently fun to sing along to thanks to beautiful melodies and blissed out harmonies. It was no different during the show. People sung along and shuffled around and held hands and hopefully washed those hands for 20 seconds while singing a Best Coast chorus.

The band closed out the show with an encore, but I didn’t recognize the song. Cosentino thanked people for being there and supporting their music, then demanded we all get a fucking hot dog (which we did). 

In light of what’s happening in Seattle, this show was a wonderful distraction from getting into fistfights over dwindling toilet rolls at Costco. Both Mannequin Pussy and Best Coast put on amazing sets that showcased every angle of their talents, and I’m so glad Seattle showed up for them, whatever the risk.

(Here are some of Jake’s photos from the show, which was visually quite captivating as well. – Editor)


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