LIVE: Beach House @ Upstate Concert Hall, 8/24/15

September 22nd, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg

Review by Greg Haymes

If Julee Cruise isn’t available to reprise her role as the deliciously semi-somnambulant lounge singer on the upcoming “Twin Peaks” Showtime re-boot, Beach House seems primed and ready to take over the role.

The Baltimore-based dream-pop duo of vocalist-keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scully – collectively known as Beach House – made their Capital Region concert debut at the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, delving into their back catalog of gauzy, semi-ambient pop songs, as well as showcasing selections from their fifth album, Depression Cherry, which was released on Sub Pop Records just a few days after the show.

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On recordings, Legrand – a 2003 graduate of Poughkeepsie’s Vassar College – often falls into the typical dream-pop vocal cliches – breathy, little-girl whispers floating over a soft sonic pillow of keyboards and guitars. It’s the cotton candy of pop music – it melts in your ears, not in your mind.

But front and center in concert at UCH Legrand asserted herself more with her singing, exhibiting a broader vocal range. And with the addition of rhythm section behind her on stage, she managed to carry the show and transform it into something more than a mere re-creation of the band’s trippy bed-sit sound. That was no easy task, given the fact that for much of the show Beach House was engulfed in stage fog and dim-to-non-existant lighting. Often the band was back-lit, reducing them to nothing more than silhouettes.

From the opening “Levitation” to the evening-ending encore of “10 Mile Stereo,” the band somehow managed to keep the attention of the 600 or so fans in the club, as they drifted through older favorites like “Wild,” the big beat of “Norway” and the majestic “Myth,” undeniably one of the highlights of the night.

But it was the new material – especially the soaring “Space Song,” “PPP” (coaxed along by a vintage ’50s stroll beat) and “Sparks” (blasted with a guitar squall worthy of My Bloody Valentine) that made the night an unqualified success, underscoring the fact that Beach House is just now hitting their prime.

Another Baltimore duo, Romantic States, opened the show, but that’s where the similarities ended between the headliner and the opening act.

Guitarist-vocalist Jim Triplett and drummer Ilenia Madelaire offered a mercifully short set of rudimentary lo-fi minimalist rock that exhibited neither vocal nor instrumental talent, as well as a distinct lack of passion.

SECOND OPINIONS:
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “The songs were ethereal, foggy and very methodical. Each new sound layer was introduced deliberately and with attention. Their music floated off the stage, Legrande’s vocals designed to hover within the dream sounds, and not out front as a lead instrument. You could hardly make out her lines, similar to their band member’s physical selves, the light rarely letting more than their silhouettes show. In the second song, ‘Levitation,’ from their fifth and most recent record, Depression Cherry (out this week), the song did exactly what the title suggested: lifted a bit and hovered. The drums gave it some energy, but not a lot of motion. It also weighted down the sound from floating off into the stratosphere, a plus for some, a minus for others. ‘Gila’ sounded like most of the other tunes, this one simple and comforting enough to be a children’s song with its wistful and lush synthetics. But Beach House cleverly darkens its softer side with volume and a few eerie chord layers. The songs require the listener to sink in with the texture of the sound, and stay attentive. The show did not look to startle the fans, or do something spontaneously. The half-filled club was very well behaved — too behaved for Legrand, who asked them to make a little more noise between songs.”

BEACH HOUSE SET LIST
Levitation
Wild
Lazuli
Gila
Space Song
Norway
Beyond Love
The Hours
Silver Soul
PPP
Wishes
Take Care
Myth
Sparks
ENCORE
10 Mile Stereo