Beach House, Wild Nothing
Beach House (With Wild Nothing), El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, July 4th, 2012
One does not turn to Beach House for effusive stage banter. With a series of shadows dancing across their faces from sidelights, and backlighting provided by a sheet of theatrical stars, the Baltimore-based duo kept chatting at Tuesday night’s show to a bare minimum. That is, save for a few perfunctorily thank yous. “It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you,” said keyboard/vocalist Victoria Legrand, acknowledging the duo’s seemingly aloof presence, “It’s just that it’s complicated.”
Perhaps it’s that Beach House (which also includes guitarist/backing vocalist Alex Scally and a touring drummer) has already said everything they need to in their music. Touring behind their darkly ethereal fourth album Bloom, the band is no stranger to emotional extremes, dusting their organ and keyboard-driven music with tales of love, lust, and life. After densely layered emotionally raw songs such as “10 Mile Stereo” and “Myth,” is there really much left to talk about? (For all those that left the show with a slight lump in the back of their throat the answer, of course, is no.)
While a tour with Vampire Weekend left the pair denouncing larger venues, nothing during their seventeen-song set suggested that Beach House’s music couldn’t be enjoyed in a sold-out crowd of your closest friends. Having graduated from their first two album’s ambience—where songs seemed to evanesce somewhere between the speaker and listener’s ears—Legrand and Scally are now pop stars…albeit of the dream variety. Their transformation became abundantly clear when the band slipped several tracks from their first two albums into the set, including “Gila,” and “Turtle Island”—both which had been reworked to reflect their new, assertive sound.
Chairbound in order to work his myriad of pedals, Scally flopped his limbs wildly in time to the drummer’s pounding and Legrand’s equally percussive keyboard lines. However, all this was simply to serve the band’s centerpiece, as Legrand’s emotive rasp—an icy siren’s call that—even with signs of strain from the band’s extensive touring schedule—evoked a near-visceral response to the audience. (Visceral. That is what you call the kind of band that inspires spontaneous make-out sessions across the venue, right?)
Opener Wild Nothing may not have been able to match Beach House in sheer emotional reach (Then again, who could?), but they did win over the already packed-out house in sheer likeability. (“I promise we’re not just five random guys,” said frontman Jack Tatum after a song required several false starts to begin.) Sprinkling their set with cuts from forthcoming sophomore album Nocturne, the band vided strongly for their right to The Cure’s throne, airing not only some retrotastic song structure, but also an intoxicatingly heartbroken heart.
Beach House Setlist:
2. Walk in the Park
4. Other People
7. Equal Mind
8. The Hours
9. Silver Soul
10. New Year
13. Take Care
15. Turtle Island
16. 10 Mile Stereo
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