Beach House Bring Humanism to the Beacham

Photo Credit: Luciano Guala
Photo Credit: UnknownLiving in the information age, we are allowed to probe the archives of eras past. We have become what some have termed a “collage culture,” scrolling through the annals of history and taking the bits and pieces of what we like to construct an identity. In music, this has presented itself in those who fetishize the sounds of the past, but also those who consciously reject the forlorn grip of nostalgia. This obsession has proved as divisive as it is inspiring for some acts of recent years.

Enter Beach House. The brainchild of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, this Baltimore band garnered a reputation for a fully-formed aesthetic in their recordings. Their 2006 self-titled debut and follow up, Devotion, were drenched in a faraway, narcoticized sheen, not unlike production found in 1980s pop music (think Cocteau Twins). What set them apart from idol worshippers was their classically informed gift for emotive movements. Their breakthrough album, Teen Dream (2010), saw them embracing a bigger sound too audacious to hide behind the reverb and filters that garnish the first two.

The duo, along with the newest official member of the band, drummer Daniel Franz, are now touring the states in support of their newest work, Bloom, slated for release next Tuesday (May 15). At their stop at the Beacham Theatre in Orlando last night, the trio was not shy to share with us what material they have been working on for the past couple of years.

The night began with Zomes (née Asa Osborne), a man with nothing more than a keyboard, a drum machine and a meditative calm. His distorted Casio buzzed with looping melodies over drum loops that became mantras and began to lull me into deep thought. While his performance seemed a little too introspective and sedate for the occasion, I would recommend it for anyone looking for a soundtrack for letting his or her mind wander.

While the thickening crowd began to settle in, the house lights were dimmed, and Beach House took the stage. After a warm welcome, the group dove right into “Troublemaker,” a cut from the upcoming full-length. In spite of the set weighing more favorably with new material—less than half of the songs performed came from previously released albums—Beach House’s live dynamic serves as a great equalizer for their entire discography. Because the band does not strip down for older, more minimal songs, and because they do not add on instruments for the lush tracks of their more recent albums, the set is treated as an entity independent of the albums and wholly organic.

Photo Credit: Luciano Guala

Scally (left) and Legrand (right) of Beach House performing on the 'Bloom' tour

Even though the band carries a reserved energy about them, their emotional intensity is palpable. Even Scally, whilst playing guitar, bass (with his feet), and singing, his closed eyes suggested his mind was off in the ether of the music and not onstage. Legrand’s stoic gaze washed over the crowd in between hypnotic howls. Coupled with a set designed by the band themselves, the lights accentuated the intimate and gripping nature of the music.

Technology now mediates almost every experience we have with music as laptops, filters and knobs adorn both the studio and the stage. As listeners, we now frequent websites and Wikis before we ever get around to actually listening to a band. But artists like Beach House work to transcend the stifling cycle of idolatry and venture into new territory. It is these artists who bring physicality and emotion into a world of altered and pre-fabricated sounds and give us something that is 100 percent original; 100 percent human.

Set list:
Other People
Walk in the Park
Equal Mind
Silver Soul
New Year
Take Care

Turtle Island
10 Mile Stereo

P.S. You can stream the new album, Bloom, in full from NPR Music for free.

Leave a Reply