Pic and Review by David Chiu
Beach House has come a long way in the three years since I first discovered the Baltimore indie pop duo. At the time, the band had a self-titled first album on Carpark Records and was opening for the Clientele. Now, they’ve released two more albums, including their most recent effort Teen Dream (Sub Pop), attracted major press attention and built a considerable following.
The group’s popularity was on full display last night when singer/keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally played to a packed house at Webster Hall.
Accompanied by a drummer, Beach House performed ethereal-sounding music that was characterized by slow tempos, waltz-like rhythms, and dreamy melodies that evoke early 20th century pop music. Clearly this wasn’t music to dance or rock out to—more like sway slowly to. Beach House’s music nevertheless divinely draws you in with every song, whether it’s the charming pop of “Lover of Mine,” the hypnotic “Gila” or the romantic-sounding “Astronaut.”
While the intimate elements of the group’s style were present at the show, the music sounded more bold live than on record. The addition of the drummer was one major factor, but there was also an intensity during the show that helped the band to soar. Scally, who usually plays his guitar lines in a gentle manner, unleashed some stinging riffs during a performance of the excellent “Master of None.” He was matched by Legrand’s singing– her hair flowing wildly over her face as if she was possessed by the music.
The stage was decorated with a few large glittery diamond-shaped objects that were hung on the ceiling and mounted on poles, adding to the idea that Beach House’s exquisite music is more about the senses than theatrics. It was an evening that conveyed something pure and mystical.
In contrast to Beach House’s music, opening act Washed Out’s was more rooted in electronic rock and dance grooves– you had no choice but to react physically. Based in Georgia, Washed Out is essentially one man named Ernest Greene. At the beginning of his set, he was onstage by himself programming the music and singing into the mike. Half way into his set, the other band members– a drummer, a bassist and two keyboardists– entered and played with Greene a combination of music that drew from funk and rock.