by Sion Weatherhead
It was strange that the following night after a full house event with Father John Misty, I was back at the same venue – except that it was practically empty with only people on the edges of the floor. The stage showed no sign of the support acts either, so I decided to go play pool in a bar with my brother, who came with me tonight; a mistake – I realised later.
When we came back about half an hour later, the room was flooded with people. On stage was an Asian guitarist playing an incredibly complex rhythm composed of loops that he was infinitely adding to and manipulating with foot pedals. When he finished, the audience roared with an incredible cheer. He bowed about nine times in that characteristically “stereo typically eastern” way. “Thank you so much” he repeated, still bowing, *patting the back of his head with one hand*.
Then, he awkwardly said “next up, Beach House.”
After a long interval, at first subtle, then gradually becoming prominent, a familiar note suitably permeated the air. It was the beginning of Levitation, the first track on their first of two albums released this year: Depression Cherry.
The lights shut off and the band came out like black ghosts. As the moving silhouettes got in to their position one audience member obnoxiously shouted “I LOVE YOU” he said excitedly. “I LOVE YEW” he repeated. And as if nothing had happened, Victoria Legrand’s throaty voice breezed into the room and soared.
Beach House has such a strong stage presence. Despite barely moving, confidence exudes out of them. My brother had never heard of them, yet he was completely absorbed in their atmosphere. And I looked around to find that he was one of many enraptured in the sea of souls.
On the other hand there were some truly overzealous fans. In fact, I would say majority of the people there were die hards. Many seem to fit a certain look, 20’s to 30’s and eclectic. Some were hoarsely singing along to the songs, knowing it word for word, but terrible at singing.
As much as the attention seemed to be drawn by Victoria, there was an incredible talent in Alex Scalley – the guitarist. Songs like Beyond Love and Silver Soul shows such an incredible variance despite its simplicity. It cuts through what would otherwise become monotonous without it.
Suppose that’s the magic with Beach House, every time the music verges on stagnating, it is brought back to life by the smallest ray of light shone by one of the instruments. The band has previously mentioned not liking being referred to as dream pop. But it is hard to not think of them that way. They quite literally send you into a trance. So much so that I didn’t even realise the band had left the stage and I was standing there with my mouth wide open.
They finished with the song Sparks off Depression Cherry. The song ended with a jam much more vibrant than the recording, with rumbling drums crashed into us like a tidal wave. As the synths reached it’s crescendo the beat came to a sudden stop and Victoria broke away, spinning the mic on it’s stand and the three of them left wordlessly as the crowd cheered to the remaining echoes of their performance.
Overall, the performance was nothing short of brilliant. Beach House is a band that has perfected their craft, found their sound and have managed to reinvent themselves with every album which was subtle but also significant ways. Seeing them live truly shows their value. If you are looking for a musical cleansing, a way to escape your body, they are a must see.
Photo credit: Sion Weatherhead
Beach House will be touring in Australia early next year. Watch out for tickets.
5 Feb, Adelaide SA
6 Feb, Bowen Hills QLD
7 Feb, Sydney NSW
13 Feb, Footscray, VIC
14 Feb, Frementle WA