Beach House: Review for Drop-D (but here for the moment)

Posted: December 2, 2008 in Uncategorized

Drop-D’s editorship has been passed onto another, so while it is in this state of flux I’ll stick up my review of last Thursday’s Beach House gig here.

With Baltimore now probably more famous for the drug-addled urban cesspool where Marlo and his crew sling their product and McNulty boozes his way to early retirement in best-show-ever © The Wire, the duo of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, AKA dreampoppers Beach House, are busy forging their own way in a hazy world of narcotic rock and ethereal hymnals .
Standing awash in the unusually harsh lights of Whelans, they seem surprised at the reverence of the shuffling crowd and proceed to grab the room with an enchanting performance that combines Legrand’s surprisingly strong – and deeply sexy – live vocals with Scally’s fuzzy slide and a little percussion to top it off.
Legrand proves to be a more than capable frontwoman, joking that this is ‘the best night of our worst tour and Dublin was the best night of our first tour’ while the harmonies on songs like Heart of Chambers are bracingly gorgeous, with opening number Gila and the wonderful Wedding Bells mixing with debut album tracks such as Apple Orchard and Tokyo Witch.
On record, their monicker becomes a bit of a misnomer and tonight’s stage performance is no different as the lethargic pacing of the songs evoke a feeling of a kind of forlorn isolation about as far from the mental picture of a beach house as one could probably get.
Yet, compared to their recorded output, the stage gives Beach House a little more; it gives them a kind of melodrama and edge that makes it seem as if David Lynch could easily have invented them to lull him to sleep as he conceives notions of twisted Americana and how to drive a big shitting train through your ideas of linear cinematic narrative.
Seeing them on stage seems like the final piece in the puzzle, it shows the concentration Legrand puts into the vocals, the careful timing of the various instruments and effects they employ and gives you a chance to see firsthand the haze, hues and silken hair you probably just about imagine when listening to Devotion on your headphones in bed.
When she invites the crowd back to the band’s hotel after the gig, I imagine there is not one person who wouldn’t have wanted to do just that and get to kick back with a glass of red wine, basking in a few impromptu acoustic interpretations of the group’s carefully crafted, moving, musical vignettes while gathered around their feet in some budget hotel on Camden Street. Bliss.

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