Scrolling through COIN’s Spotify page, I immediately noticed their collection of starkly lit, vividly iconic album artwork. The band’s 2017 album How Will You Know If You Never Try depicts the titular words carved neatly into a gravestone photographed in the corner of a deep red room; recent singles feature clean typography photographed on paper-plastic packaging. Despite the lucid clarity of visual signifiers like How Will You Know If You Never Try’s tombstone, COIN’s defiantly bold color and sleek design across all discography are consistently thoughtful, uncluttered, and inventive.
If album covers are any signifier for a band’s sound, I delved into their discography expecting to hear sounds with a similarly unapologetic vividness. I was met with exactly this: brilliantly strong guitar riffs accompanied by stinging, fresh vocals in thoughtful arrangement. And when COIN’s four members stride confidently out onto a stage decorated solely with their band name and launch into opener “Growing Pains,” that brilliance is reflected out on the stage.
Tonight at the Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion, COIN stands as the opener to Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums: two big-name bands that have been making music and hitting the charts since 2011. But the four-piece band’s potent identity and matching anthemic sound brought crowds to a roar long before the main acts appeared. They opened the set with “Growing Pains,” the first new single after their sophomore album. The song begins with Ryan Winnen’s crisp, crashing drums, pulsing under zinging synths and lyrics depicting dating, learning, and growing older all at the same time. The band then dives directly into “Simple Romance,” a 2018 single that highlights Lawrence’s vocals as he sings sweetly into the microphone, dancing across the stage in a unique, boyish frenzy. His bandmates are having just as much fun: guitarist Joe Memmel flips his hair back and forth a mere 3 feet in front of me, sending his locks flying with an energy that could only come from indie pop rock star like Memmel.
Next up is “Boyfriend,” a shiny and anthemic beat roaring below biting lyrics about a manipulative girl who won’t stop calling, despite Lawrence’s repeated, plaintive insistence: “I don’t wanna be your boyfriend.” Lawrence is in constant motion across the stage, spinning over to greet bassist Matt Martin, who was launching into a spiraling riff between the bridge and the chorus. Here, the band takes a breather from their sparkling, energetic performance to address the crowd with a sheepish “hey guys,” from Lawrence, then thanking the crowd for showing up early and dancing together under this still-sunlit tent.
COIN then dove into their newest single “Crash My Car,” a gleaming anthem about recklessness and infatuation. It was at this point that I had to leave the photo pit, but with COIN’s bright wall of sound beaming behind me I couldn’t help but dance my way out of the pit, letting their infectious chants stream live through my body as I skip-hopped towards my backpack. To say that COIN’s performance was simply “fun” would be a deep understatement: their honest youthful energy gave their performance a raw and buoyant cheer that spread past the stage and lit up the entire crowd.
Next was “I Want It All,” another driving, synth-y hit about a “lovesick feeling.” The electric sounds are actually part of a violin arrangement swirling below — when the single was released, fans received packages in the mail containing the violin arrangement music sheets, a ring, and other sweet items in a red package that exactly mimics the one photographed on the single’s cover. The band’s attention to their fans, to the details of their identity, and to their music is evident. Sure, COIN is fun and reckless at times, but it’s undeniable that they treat everything around them with endless care.
By now almost everyone in the Pavilion is standing up, but when the drums kick in at the start of album hit “Talk Too Much,” Lawrence urges everyone to get up and jump – and they do. The song is infectiously celebratory and sing-able, and the crowd screams the lyrics right back to the band. During the chorus, Lawrence drawls “Stay cool it’s just a kiss / oh, why you gotta be so talkative?”, each word descending further off the next, disrupting the upwards chorus with this unique downwards staircase. On the song’s Genius lyrics page, the band themselves noted that this downward staircase was “originally presented as a joke” and accidentally kept in the final song, but the crashing chorus of fans shouting this line at the Pavilion demonstrates that the song’s star status is no accident. COIN’s spontaneity shines through here, their infectious joy and free-spirited attitude seeping into the lyrics, the melody, and the performance of their music. In 2019 single “Crash My Car,” which they played earlier in the set, the pre-chorus melody descends just like this one, each downward step surprising as it continues to dip. It’s catchy and so much fun, and goes to show that COIN is continuously growing and learning as a band and as real young people, just as their lyrics suggest.
The boys relayed a similar narrative in an interview regarding I Don’t Wanna Dance (which, regretfully, they didn’t play): in the unexpected chorus, Lawrence lets out a childishly high-pitched and irritated whine. This sour, shrill stroke actually sounds great, but the band had noted it was an accident. When Lawrence sent a jokingly grouchy voice memo of the line to his bandmates, “they were like… that’s actually good. We tried to re-record them so many times, and we could never beat them.” The offbeat decision speaks to an underlying pattern in COIN’s songwriting: they’re fun, they’re spontaneous, and they’re not afraid to write songs that deny sonic expectations with a brash, bouncing freedom. This easy celebratory attitude is mediated by the care with which COIN attends to all elements of their identity: their album graphics, their songwriting, and the way they treat their fans are all imbued with an honest love from these four young bandmates who are, clearly, having just as much fun as everyone else at the Pavilion. Their seven-song set was a joy to witness, and left me looking for their next nearby headline date.