It's easy to be enchanted by the music of Beach House. The Baltimore outfit brings an underlying darkness to its warm, beached-out dream pop for a sound that is alluring, complex and, most of all, hypnotic. At the same time, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have a gift for expressing feelings and emotions that many of us have difficulty articulating.
The band opened with "Wild," a track from Bloom, with a steady percussive beat, leading into Legrand's gentle, luminous vocals. Unhurriedly, the song grew from a small moment to an explosive one. In "Walk in the Park," off of the acclaimed 2010 album Teen Dream, the duo showed us something lush and deeply romantic -- a symphony of simple emotions brought to life by Legrand's vibrant voice, which isn't necessarily feminine, but rather has a slightly androgynous quality that is smoky and completely beautiful.
The lighting was perfect, glowing like boat lights on the ocean, or displaying a sparkling, starry-skied backdrop. It never took the focus away from the performance -- it cast a magical looking mist over the whole crowd, creating an intoxicating, dream-like atmosphere for the whole night. "Wishes," a glittering, almost-lullaby, mirrored the mood effortlessly.
"Used To Be," another track off Teen Dream, captured the sadness that permeates many of the songs on that album, expressing the pain of someone witnessing change in someone they love. "Norway" carried a tinge of new possibilities while also presenting similar underlying sense of the bittersweet. In contrast, the tracks played off of Bloom evoked a sense of moving on from something, but were no less intimate in terms of letting us in on private moments.
Regardless of the emotional climate of the songs, the crowd appreciated everything that Legrand and Scally put in front of them -- and it seemed like each song was something special and personal to each member of the audience. Some people had their eyes closed, pensively considering each track, while others swayed slightly, eyes locked devotedly on the stage. Some were dancing wildly, even when it didn't match the tempo of what was being played.
Towards the end of the show, "Zebra" showed a tumultuous, dramatic sweep with angelic harmonies and a storm of cymbals. When the band ended its set, the crowd demanded an encore with stomping feet. The band obliged with two more songs, including "10 Mile Stereo," that inspired an excited roar from the crowd.
When the show ended and people started filing out, you could sense that many folks were clearly struck by a shared sensation. In the same way that you need to gather yourself after leaving a movie theater after seeing something particularly moving, everyone had to give themselves a few moments to process and internalize everything that Beach House had made them feel in just one short set.
Earlier in the night, Poor Moon opened for Beach House with bright, beautifully melodic ballads. It's clear that they are a side project of Christian Wargo of Fleet Foxes -- and the clear and well-built harmonies translated well into some of their more beachy-sounding songs, which lent well to the overall ethereal feel of the night.
Personal Bias: Teen Dream is one of my all-time favorite albums.
Random Detail: There were fans set up in crates behind the band, and with certain lighting, the rotation of the fan blades made the audience look like they were ocean-bound, being touched by the flash of a guide light from a lighthouse -- I'm not sure if it was intentional, but it was a cool effect.
By The Way: Victoria Legrand knows how to work her hair into a performance.
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