By: Adan Magana
Frankie Cosmos’ music fits like an old college sweatshirt, it’s warmth and comfort only matched by the surprising weight of attached memories. There’s no question that Frankie Cosmos, the alias of singer and guitarist Greta Kline, traffics in twee, wistful nostalgia; but rather than be another trite entry in a long line of manic pixie dream girls, Kline’s songs unfold like a series of intimate and emotionally resonant vignettes. Her songs are polaroids in an old photo album or old post cards spread out on your grandmother’s rug.
But more importantly, her band can rock. And so could the openers for this installment of Noise Pop’s “25 to 25” series, held at Oakland’s Starline Social Club: SOAR, the female foursome from San Francisco, and Iji, a charming and fun mainstay of the Seattle DIY scene. SOAR’s power pop was infectious and did a great job of getting the crowd pumped for what was to come. Iji continued and heightened that energy, putting a smile on everyone’s face with their yacht-rock tinged pop songs and a very special cover of Cher’s “Believe” that had everyone singing along.
Once Frankie Cosmos came to the stage, the good vibes continued. Up until this show, I had only experienced the band as background music to introspective drives through redwood forests or to drown out the misery of Monday commutes on BART. But seeing these songs performed live revealed how much of a punch they pack, both sonically and emotionally.
The first half of her set was spent breezily maneuvering through songs from Next Thing, her latest album released this April on Bayonet Records. Two standouts, “Fool” and “Sinister”, had the crowd crooning along to the memorable hooks. The second half of the set was dedicated to some beloved older songs, mostly from her previous album Zentropy (2014). When band announced that they were going to play older songs, there was a loud cheer from the audience and a humorous “It’s okay, I get it…” from Kline. While I was a little disappointed not to hear “Korean Food” from 2015’s EP Fit Me In–a personal favorite– “Birthday Song” and “Buses Splash With Rain” stood out as excellent entries from the first studio album. At a couple points in the set, she invited members of Iji to perform choreographed dances and even play the saxophone, showing how much the two groups truly get along.
Frankie Cosmos never lingers too long with a song, with very few even reaching the two-minute mark. In a live setting, this works to great advantage; the bouncy verve of the rapidly songs kept the audience shimmying and shaking and nodding along, never skipping a beat. Despite ending at almost midnight on a Monday, the set flew by, buoyed by a charming, confident energy carried throughout the entire performance. For a while now, Frankie Cosmos has helped me relax and unwind; but next time I listen on the train, I’ll also be tapping my toes.