Peninsular Place

The Magazine

July 23, 2012

Beach House @ the Crofoot [Review]

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Written by: Paul Kitti
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Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the words “sold out!” marked in green chalk on a sign outside the Crofoot on Wednesday night. But they remained even after a double take, reminding me that Beach House isn’t my own little secret. As I squeezed my way towards the front through the sticky heat of a dense crowd, in total blackness just moments before Beach House made their entrance, I got the sense that everyone in the building was in love with this band. It wasn’t obsession or riotous admiration; rather, something deep and unspoken, like how you might feel towards a stranger who stayed up all night to keep you company when no one else was around.

The Baltimore duo’s distinct take on dreamy electronic pop – grand yet quiet, and undeniably “lush” as many critics have pointed out – came into full maturity on 2010’s enchanting “Teen Dream.” Since then, they’ve ridden the best-kept-secret-in-the-East-coast wave to the very top of indie blog stardom, where praising mentions in publications such as Rolling Stone and a magnificent follow-up album, this year’s “Bloom”, have put Beach House a class above their bedroom-pop peers.

There’s been more such acts rolling through town this summer than we’ve ever seen previously – bands that produce intimate, electronic-based pop with keyboards and Macbooks and fluid electric guitar strums. There seems to be a massive swaying in interest from head-banging and rocking out to something more mellow, more intricate and, just, respectably different. But translating this music to an energetic, or at least engaging, live show is problematic. Several times I’ve paid to see a band – or an individual – sit on stage producing their daydream sounds that I love so much in my headphones, and I find myself feeling restless as my thoughts wander to the days of power chords and sweaty lead singers draining their pent-up angst through massive amplifiers while the drummer frantically tries to deal with a broken drum stick.

Beach House didn’t just avoid this problem, they transcended it. The extended floor and tall ceilings of the Crofoot Ballroom allowed their – sure, I’ll say it – lush melodies to swell into gorgeous storms. These were the same pitch-perfect songs from their records, executed with perfection, but on growth hormones. Victoria LeGrande, draped in a baggy black shirt with her long brown hair dusting the tops of her keys, sounded just as earthy, unique and soulful as she does on record, but there was a new power to her voice. The way she sings, I felt as though she was warning me about something, like she was relaying visions from a prophetic dream.

The light show added to the awe of the whole thing, with blues and reds and white strobe lights glowing and spinning and disappearing for bouts of complete blackness. Clusters of small dots were projected into the crowd, where they dipped around then crawled up the walls then vanished and returned without warning. Occasional white lights on the side of the stage gave a candlelight effect to the area around LeGrande. She was joined by Alex Scally on guitar, as well as a hired-hand drummer. Scally also operated some kind of organ bass using pedals at the same time he was playing guitar, which was something I hadn’t seen before. The interplay between him and LeGrande proves a chemistry that can’t be emulated.

They were armed with a 17-song set list, and every one faded gracefully into the sound of grateful applause. The band – all dressed in black – said very few words during the show. The set was seamless, integrated perfectly with the lights, creating a gentle but rousing mood that would have been damaged by excessive stage chatter. About halfway through, Scally did break the silence between songs to mention that, in over 500 shows, this was the first one where he witnessed someone crowd-surfing. Well done, Pontiac.

About the Author

Paul Kitti
Paul Kitti
Paul is another awesome member of the iSPY team.

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