Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Beach House concert review
Beach House at the Star Bar, January 24th, 2010
I’ve pondered this review for about a week. All that pondering muddled my memory of the concert. I know I liked the show. I blissfully, eyes-closed enjoyed it. But I haven’t been able to figure out how to discuss concerts without puling about the people who go to concerts. I promise this won’t be a predictable rehash of a diatribe against hipsters and their silly haircuts. I’m going to talk about the music. But as we all know, a concert is only as good as the sum of its many parts.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say concertgoers consider the audience to be the least enjoyable part about concerts. Most conversations about shows entail an approving or disgruntled description of the crowd, as well as a comment about the music. In this case I’m torn. I’ve had a very passionate obsession with Beach House ever since I saw them at Kilby Court two years ago. I want to share this love with others. And as I mixed and mingled with the crowd at the Star Bar I came to realize that everybody I talked to were about to be struck by Cupid’s arrow. Almost all the members of the audience had only very recently heard of Beach House.
All those virgin ears should have been pleasantly thrilled. The giant wall of sonic delight that burrowed into the crowd must have been the perfect first time encounter with the band. Beach House was Alex Scally on guitar and vocals, Victoria Legrand on keys and gorgeous vocals, and either Daniel J Franz or Graham Hill on percussion (according to their MySpace there are two percussionists but only one played drums on stage). Three people filled that little venue to the brim with sweet, sweet noise.
The band played almost exclusively from their recently released third album Teen Dream. The delicate tintinnabulation of the guitars and the first plaintive moans of “Zebra” immediately hushed the crowd. As the chorus opened up we understood just how loud the band can, and would, get. The new album does not accentuate the band’s sonic muscle nearly enough. But Beach House were also tender lovers during numbers like “Better Times” and the closer “Take Care.” Every song, though, swallowed the crowd up, smothered it in a way Teen Dream somehow fails to.
As far as the band’s earlier output, the virgin Beach Housers didn’t get enough. “Master of None” was the lone representative from the self-titled album and for the life of me I can only remember them playing “Gila” from Devotion. I can’t remember which, but I’m positive they played another from Devotion. These songs were perfect. They were just as bittersweet as the rest of the set. But I wanted all the newcomers to understand why I’ve been in love with this band for so long. I absolutely cannot complain about the set list because I loved every song and every minute, but I wanted more.
I was happy to find that the band I love didn’t attempt to recreate the magic of Devotion or their self-titled on their new album Teen Dream. I guess I’m lamenting the fact that my love at first sight experience could never be duplicated. But I felt as though my long time love had decided to gloss over the first time we met. Beach House absolutely did not disappoint and I really shouldn’t complain about the truly solid set list. The concert dazzled me. But the cynical side of me did resent those in the crowd that made me feel as though I was only there to participate in a hip scene. A lot of those people left the Star Bar in love, but a lot of them didn’t give Beach House the tenderness and attention they deserve. I see big things for Beach House, but I hope they keep a handle on the past and I hope the newcomers don’t overlook the band’s past albums.