Posted by: Jeff | March 29, 2010

Live Review: Beach House

Friday night Baltimore-based Beach House made the short trek down I-95 to play a sold out show at DC’s Black Cat.  From the looks of the crowd, however, they brought much of Baltimore with them.  According to one hipster culture aficionado, the audience was composed not only of DC “faux-hipsters with daytime jobs at the EPA”, but also “true-blood Baltimore hipsters.”

Beach House is a fast-rising indie darling, and with their third release, Teen Dreams, the band is showcasing quite a bit of mainstream appeal.  The latest record is the most accessible and hi-fi to date, and has garnered widespread critical acclaim as one of the early favorites for best album of 2010.

It is a testament to the musicianship of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally that Beach House sounds much the same live as they do on record.  There aren’t a lot of pieces to the touring band, but the music is rich and layered, filling the room with dreamy sound.  The semi-androgynous voice of Legrand is raspy but extremely flexible, perfect in full-throated chorus or whispered verse.  Her voice is wonderfully intimate, a perfect counterbalance to the atmospheric sense that the music is everywhere.

The Black Cat is a venue with amazing ambiance, but Friday’s show was a reminder that it doesn’t quite match the acoustics of the 930 club just up U Street.  The sound was clear enough, but the volume seemed low and Legrand motioned several times for adjustments to the mix.  She also seemed annoyed with Black Cat staff who continually trained spotlights into the audience, despite the band’s wishes to keep the club dark.

Nevertheless, singles “Used to Be” and “Silver Soul” still sounded excellent, but the true highlights were “Walk in the Park” and “10 Mile Stereo” – particularly the chorus on the former, which Legrand belted before fading out with a repeated incantation of “more/you want more you tell me.”  The band is set to embark on a marathon tour across the US, and here is hoping that the crowds that meet them further away from their hometown of Baltimore are just as appreciative as their neighbors here in DC.

Beach House – Zebra

Beach House – 10 Mile Stereo



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