Show reviews: Goh Nakamura in La Jolla, Best Coast at the Santa Monica Pier

Attending free shows in La Jolla and Santa Monica makes it seem like I’m living in some sort of Gidget beach movie paradise. Well, maybe I am. The photo above was taken two Friday nights ago, when we arrived at the San Diego beach town. Goh Nakamura, who flew down to perform at my brother’s wedding, was cool enough to play an hour-long solo set at the guest house where a bunch of us stayed. And although the evening was hot and humid, it turned out to be the longest and perhaps tightest set that I’ve ever seen Goh play, balancing his perfectly honest originals (“Daylight Savings,” “Sarah Rose,” and even a new one or two) with a few personalized-yet-respectful covers (The Cure, Bee-Gees) as well as a Van Halen-related story that I had never heard. Very cool. Yes, his number-one fan Eloise loved it, too, and so did my dad and everyone else in the house.

I can’t go into too much detail about the music he played before Sharon and Greg’s processional because I was sequestered  with the wedding party, but of course Goh sounded as pitch perfect as he was cool when we approached and departed the ceremony. Then, after I gave my toast at the wedding banquet, I had the pleasure of introducing Goh to the guests before a short and sweet set. He said it was his first art museum show–JANM is a little different, I think–and Eloise was in front, once again. She was stoked!

A couple of nights after we returned to Los Angeles, Best Coast played a free show at the Santa Monica Pier. The Thursday night date served as the finale of this summer’s free twilight concert series. To accomodate a certain little girl’s attention span, my crew arrived fashionably late/just in time for the set which mixed newer and older songs, as well as a single from the old days for the die-hard fans. Although I’ve bumped into Bobb now and then I hadn’t seen Best Coast play since they played two nights at the Troubadour way back when, where I interviewed them for Giant Robot 69. Sadly, the issue was never released but a piece went up online and is archived at my Alivenotdead feed.

Of course, the band has evolved into a bigger sound and huger shows, with a new drummer as well as a bassist. Behind the deceptively straightforward songs are a lot of work and a ton of chops, and I still love Best Coast for their brilliant (but unpretentious) and dreamy (while totally literal) pop, not to mention their unabashed pride in Los Angeles. “Best Coast is the East Coast? Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup, bitches. That’s what I’m talking about,” is how Bethany Cosantino answered some good-natured heckling by a fan. In appreciation of their local fans who packed the fenced-in area, they played a full 90-minute show that we watched from the side.

An intimate house gig, live music at a celebration, and a free concert at the beach–these are atypical circumstances for shows but they are all rad. And did I mention Goh accompanied us to the Best Coast show? It was cool to see him hang out and enjoy a set for once. I would have bought the man a drink if I weren’t lugging a burned-out toddler around.