Best Coast made its Lincoln debut Thursday night, playing the Bourbon Theatre as the headliner of the first day of Lincoln Calling.
Singer Bethany Cosentino, however, has spent a lot of time in Omaha, where her mother and father grew up -- enough that she endorsed a candidate for the Nebraska Legislature from the stage.
That candidate is Megan Hunt, who Cosentino met via her clothing company. She’s running in District 20, the seat now held by Sen. Burke Haar, who is term limited.
“We really need progressive, forward thinking people to help us move this country forward,” she said before talking about the need for compassion and introducing the song “Jealousy.”
I’ve never before heard a national artist endorse a state candidate. But a few minutes later, Cosentino made another unheard of statement that really caught my attention.
“This is my absolute least favorite Best Coast song,” she said. “I hate this song. But we play it because you guys like it. Bobb (Bruno, her guitarist partner) likes it to. Can you guess what it is?”
The crowd that filled the Bourbon’s main floor yelled “Boyfriend” and, indeed, it was.
That was the penultimate song in Best Coast’s superb hour-long set that found the band playing songs from all three of its albums, beefing up the hazy California pop via three guitars (when Bethany picked one up).
There was plenty of haze on stage, courtesy of a smoke machine, which, after messing up a song because she coughed, Cosentino had turned off. She has been sick, she said, something she didn’t want to mention during the show.
Other than a few flat spots, Cosentino’s illness didn’t impact her vocals, which were stronger than at any previous Best Coast show I’ve seen as she channeled ‘60s girl group singing in her songs of life in California.
Best Coast had to split right after the show to fly to Houston and rejoin Paramore on a tour. Cosentino said she hoped to return to Lincoln soon and had plenty of praise for Lincoln Calling.
“We’re stoked to be here,” she said. “You guys are rad. This festival is dope.”
Best Coast was the last of six bands I saw Thursday, all of which were either female fronted or had a woman in the group. In large part, that’s because Lincoln Calling intentionally booked about half of the 100 bands with women and members of the LGBT community.
That run started at Duffy’s Tavern’s backlot with Ian Sweet, a Brooklyn band that Thursday, was just Jilian Medford making plenty of noise chording an electric guitar while singing in a sweet high voice.
Then came Lincoln’s Mad Dog & the 20/20s, fronted by Madeline Christensen, who delivered a set of high energy ska that got the Bodega’s Alley crowd dancing and a pair of indie rock outfits, Boston’s Palehound, a trio with two women members who played Duffy’s and the all female trio Cayetana from Philadelphia at the Bourbon.
The remaining band was the night’s revelation. Matt Stansberry & The Romance are, to put it simply, a great soul outfit with a three-man horn section, bass, drums, keyboards, Stansberry and his brother Joe on guitars and vocals -- along with powerhouse Ms. Myra Beasley.
I wasn’t able to catch the entire set at Duffy’s. I had to run across O street to catch Best Coast before it ended. But the 40 minutes of Stansberry & The Romance I did see was terrific, the tightly arranged and performed original songs were got the too-sparse crowd dancing from the first minute and was great fun.
Lincoln Caling 2017 continues Friday and Saturday with Angel Olsen and Charli XCX as headliners.