“I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.”
Bethany Cosentino clasped the microphone with both hands, guitar hanging freely from her neck.
“A few months ago, I became aware of what politicians were doing to Planned Parenthood, so we organized this concert to help,” she called out.
Cosentino, front woman of Best Coast, the surf-rock band from Los Angeles, shared the stage Thursday at Le Poisson Rouge in New York with Those Darlins to benefit Planned Parenthood, an organization for women’s reproductive health.
Those Darlins, from Tennessee, took the stage with their bad-ass girl attitude, appealing to the mostly female audience. Jessi, Kelley and Nikki faced the crowd confidently and changed moods with every song. Although bouncy and peppy for “Screws Get Loose,” the quick-tempoed title track from their new album, they crouched low with widened eyes for the spooky “Mystic Mind.”
The band’s country influence seeped through into their gritty rock songs with edgy lyrics about getting drunk and wild life.
Audience members had high energies when Those Darlins’ set ended. Planned Parenthood volunteers addressed the importance of voting and their belief that women’s health care should be protected. Recently, some politicians have called for Congress to stop Planned Parenthood’s government funding because they believe support for breast cancer screening and other services will indirectly support abortion services. Pink-shirted volunteers laced the crowd, urging concert-goers to register to vote and sign up for more benefit events.
“But not only do we want you to support Planned Parenthood,” Cosentino said, a sassy smile forming, “We want you to support Best Coast.”
Along with band members Bobb Bruno and Ali Koehler (former Vivian Girls drummer), Cosentino played songs from their 2010 album “Crazy for You.” They recently celebrated two years together as a band.
Fuzzy guitar and echoing vocals (some may call it noise) flooded the venue, and Koehler drummed fluidly in time.
Best Coast’s songs are straightforward, leaving little for interpretation. “I lost my job. I miss my mom. I wish my cat could talk,” she sang. There is something about all that complaining that really sticks with the listener — the honesty, the simplicity, the realness of the music.
The band’s cover of “Fist City” allowed Cosentino to lift from the hazy pop and channel Loretta Lynn. A twang replaced the whine in her voice, and Koehler’s drumming reduced to clapping. The crowd was hypnotized.
Best Coast picked back up with “I Want You” and their singable “When I’m With You.” Their short encore featured a 7″ B-side “This Is Real,” ending an event the California band feels so strongly about.
The band’s string of summer shows will continue with concerts in California and then Europe.