Beach House Plays ‘Dreamy’ Set at Fillmore
March 2, 2011
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Midway through Papercuts’ opening set for Beach House, someone next to me remarked, “ They all look like they’ re about to fall asleep.” Indeed, there they were, gazing at their shoes, emanating loose, soporific indie-pop echos from the hallowed stage of the Fillmore Auditorium. Singer Jason Quever led the band into a smooth, thick groove as the audience settled in, wisps of smoke obscuring the instruments’ outlines.
Papercuts adequately set the mood for headliner Beach House, who came on after 10 p.m. Beach House, a Baltimore duo formed in 2004 with Alex Scally on guitar and Victoria Legrand on vocals and keyboard, has been touring with their third and latest album Teen Dream. A drummer, Daniel Franz, joins them on stage. They have been variously described as “dream pop,” “psychedelic,” or “chill,” but there is more to them than that.
Beach House writes reverb-soaked songs that walk a thin line between stiff suffocation and exhausted liberation. While they always draw tension from tinny drum-machine percussion set against Legrand’ s delirious vocals, Teen Dream is quicker, less internal, and more sonically expansive than their other two records. They played a new song during the show that suggested they would keep moving in this direction, and it was distinct from the rest of the set; it was more industrial and less baroque.
In concert, Legrand’s cavernous, breathy, androgynous voice really soars, and you remember that she is the force that makes this band interesting in the first place. She turns songs with somewhat limited range into genuinely weird, deep, maybe even mysterious, specimens. Standing center stage behind her keyboard, in a suit jacket and messy hair, she has a remarkable stage presence: slow, sexy hand gestures, sudden, wide head swings, the works.
Even in their brightest songs, Legrand and Scally harmonize about lost love, longing, loneliness, lying, a whole slew of l-words. “Better Times” has a twinge of doo-wop, before Legrand asks dramatically, “How much longer can you play with fire / before you turn into a liar?”
The final song of the concert’s encore, “10 Mile Stereo,” was a symphony of lights. Three light up pyramids stood behind the band, a starry backdrop was rapidly flashing, strobe lights consumed the room. Like the music, it was simple, but exhilarating. A night filled with haze.