Beach House at The Fillmore
With the exception of KC and The Sunshine Band or Florida, one would be hard-pressed to find a band with a more suitable name to tour South Florida than Beach House. Their music, however, is the polar opposite: murky, mellow shoegaze drenched in dreamy pop melodies, which was fitting for the overcast cobweb basementesque weather the night of their performance. Containing their ambient sound with an intimate crowd at the Fillmore showcased a group, that for their lack of grandeur but with the adage of less being more, able to make something as breezy and sometimes enigmatic as their music is feel whole and spirited in its melancholic wash.
If you’ve heard Beach House before, then the aforementioned qualities are trademarks of their sound, with lead singer Victoria Legrand delivering her signature deep, throaty vocals nearing baritone as her synthesized organs pace each song with fuzzy elegance. She has almost a synthetic motown voice, as it’s embellished with her low register and can reach higher points with crystal-like clarity. With guitarist Alex Scally cascading each song with his jangly, repeating riffs, this is what made their third LP “Teen Dream” such a success, and what has led them to headline their own tour in support of their new album “Bloom.”
The title is fitting for a band blossoming into their own groove and sound, and seeing it come into fruition live was a subdued pleasure. It’s subdued because the term “dream pop” is not the kind of music one would mosh to, and for the majority of their hour and a half set the crowd remained tranquil, not guarded, in their enthusiasm. Indeed that live resonating factor probably did not set in until the excellent “Norway” pounded its way with a thumping drum beat, Scally raindrop-like riff shimmering and Legrand’s “ah ah ah” raspy whispering that’s near angelic. Interspersed with harmonies from Scally and this hypnotic, almost soulful sound springs forth from their live performance. With the exception of one song, the set list consisted entirely from their new album and “Teen Dream,” and being that they are relatively new to the national headliner platform, fans don’t feel alienated by trying to follow along with songs they have never heard before. If anything, especially with this tour, the expectation is that you want to hear the new songs performed, being a select first few to experience Beach House as they are now; more fleshed out and the full embodiment of that ‘Beach House sound.’
It’s as plausible that you could either listen to beach house in a grand room like The Fillmore or, for the more affluent of fans, a literal beach house with either the sun rising through your blinds as streaks of light hit your face, or as the night sky falls and stars sprout as fast as your eyes can count.
It shows in their live show, as not only has the music grown but stage production. It’s as plausible that you could either listen to beach house in a grand room like The Fillmore or, for the more affluent of fans, a literal beach house with either the sun rising through your blinds as streaks of light hit your face, or as the night sky falls and stars sprout as fast as your eyes can count. Beach House’s music is the perfect backdrop for either of these settings, and production let be known that was the case with hazy, orange streaks shooting across stage for one song, and dizzying stars glimmering for the next, while Legrand and company were often left as obscure figures with hues of blue and purple floating across stage.
Those gauzy idiosyncrasies are the pull of Beach House, and their new batch of songs point to an even more consistent progression from their last album that transition seamlessly to the live stage. It can often be too dreamy, and a slight disconnect could come from fans not fully accustomed to their ethereal sound, but the seldom times they resonate directly become aesthetically and sonically impactful. Closer “Irene” delivered such frenetic energy, with Legrand head banging so wickedly that you expected her to pull out a double axe guitar and pull off a face-melting solo. Beach House can tread the calm waves of their music, or ride the the heavy current, when the moment calls for it. Either way it goes, it’s worth taking for a swim.
Review and Photos by Michael Hernandez