One of my first musical obsessions from the moment my mom showed me an intimate outdoor set of 10 Mile Stereo at the age of 13 to the release of 7 my senior year of high school, iconic French-American Dream Pop band Beach House in all of their string and synth driven trance was a musical pastoral-bliss unlike any I have ever before experienced. The March 1st Beach house show in carpeted and high ceilinged Egyptian Room at old national was purely and simply mesmerizing. Beach House excelled once again in creating an entire chimerical landscape of reverberating, auditory muted pleasure for the audience to simply bask in.
The sold out slowly filled with a variety of ages trickling in reluctant to dance to the opener, an energetic and exciting artist with a mastery of scintillating synth and closed eyes, flashing lights reverie. Colloboh, or Collins Oboh himself was breathtaking with tasteful and meticulously placed 90’s style sampling over brilliantly mixed syncopated techno; his beats bounced with the tempo of two-step and the ambience of IDM. Garage rave meets a fluent mirage of analog shapes in teasing and flowing tracks from Baltimore DJ’s entirely modular setup playing songs of his most recent EP “Entity Relation” which I highly recommend to anyone who loves calculated and precision dedicated minimalistic dance music. I’m on my toes for future releases from this young artist and am delighted they were chosen as the opener for Beach House. Closing out with a softer, more delicate track, he requested total silence for his final lighter track. Cooling down the crowd with body heat increasing in waves of new arrivals and providing a smooth transition into the otherworldly sonic dimension Beach House created.
Beach House opened strong with the delicate orchestral strings and droning summer psychedelia that is “Once Twice Melody,” the name track to their newest record. Soft hi-hat sparkles across an arpeggiated blanket of synth in the opener for their most cohesive and comprehensive album since Bloom. Beach House’s epic four part release Once Twice Melody is a total of 18 songs. A one hour and twenty four minutes of gauzy, expansive experience that is not lengthy so much as vast, haunting and enrapturing. Vocalist and keyboardist, Victoria Legrand and guitarist, keyboardist, and backup vocalist Alex Scally have once again carefully constructed an experience that although it constantly supplies an unplaceable and intricately specific feeling with the assistance of long time live drummer James Barone. Although the atmosphere is unreplicatable and unmistakable in their new record Beach House takes no risks in the direction of introducing new sounds and remains an eyes closed, arms tracing the air in steady sway experience any Beach House listener is familiar with.
Although, it was enrapturing to see new tracks Masquerade and Through me on such a massive and encompassing scale, these Cocteau Twins and soft psychedelia reminiscent tracks from Once Twice Melody made me yearn for the heart wrenching honesty of Legrand’s voice in their 2010 release “Teen Dream,” and the simple and dragging ache the innocent nostalgia of those verses embeds. Legrand and Alex however did not shy away from indulging the crowd and played all of their most popular tracks and took moments to interact with their fans acknowledging the almost Cancun mugginess of the venue, feelings of the impending spring and the fickle allure of ‘New Romance’. Their set list shows off this new record in a compelling and sensory experience, closing out with the soaring power ballad “Over and Over.” The set features much anticipated incredibly heavy drops back into “Depression Cherry” and “Teen Dream” in the form of fan favorites “PPP”, “Silver Soul” and “Space Song,” and in addition features three of the most popular tracks from 7 including my personal favorite the sinuous and building “Drunk in LA”. The sensory experience of the music itself soothes over and interconnects the repetitive and sometimes trite imagery Legrand’s ambiguous metaphors invoke. Beach House is all encompassing sensory experience with repeated visual and verbal imagery of “lights”, “stars”, “angels”, “sunlight” and glows set to the dark heady backdrop of repetitive cycles of love lost and living gained.
The visuals of this set make it impossible to close eyes that seek to sink into sensuous cocooning spider webs of silken electronica and soft barely breathed vocals. The flashing lights, wide variety of colors and majority darkness accompanied by blankets of smoke complete a dark, fairy tale atmosphere filled with dapples of crystalline lights and delicate pinterest board worthy visuals that are so meticulously constructed no fault can be found in their cliche. From glitchy anime eyes to threefold colored peonies and live feed of Legrand’s fingers flickering on the keys the visuals remain stimulating and intriguing and come in a pleasant variety in addition to an intensely complex combination of light configurations, from circling patches on the ceiling to flashes of orange and pink into the smoke at the forefront of the stage.
All in all, Beach House left me with all the satisfaction of an acutely articulated show and all the gripping nostalgia of listening to playlists made by old lovers. Easily comparable to Nico from the Velvet Underground, Victoria Legrand’s lustrous voice is an enchanting and an oddly comforting chill you do not want to leave. It carried eerily across the crowded venue with the soft yet deeply moving essential to dream pop with hallucinogenic crowd control rarely replicated. “Sad little pieces of happiness,” as Legrand called the leftover confetti intermittently raining down on her, pepper this live performance with melancholy flashbacks to moments from a picturesque past you cannot precisely place. Complemented by layers of trance like vocals over live compelling percussion and Alex Scally’s occasionally roaring guitar and dark moody synth melody lull the audience into a unified sway.
Review by Indira Rogers, Music Director
Photography by Connor Pflederer