No one is expected to pump their fist and sing along at a Beach House show
Despite banter about “mojo barriers” and spaceships, frontwoman Victoria Legrand let the songs do most of the talking at her band’s Portland show last weekend, treating a sold-out crowd to a 90-minute set of 16 songs in Beach House’s signature mid-tempo style. Although the band plays music made for theaters where one can sit and enjoy the nuance rather than endure the general admission crunch and sub-tropical temperatures of crushed bodies altogether, Beach House proved once again that its live incarnation is punchier and more muscular than the dreamy sounds that appear on the band’s LPs.
While many bands opt to play the same rote setlist night in and out while on tour, Beach House is allowing fans the opportunity to chime in on its website where they can suggest songs to include each night. Although each setlist on the tour had shared similar moments from both new albums, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, Portland fans appear to have an affinity for both Teen Dream and Bloom.
Kicking off with new song “Levitation,” Legrand traded vocals with guitarist Alex Scally as the crowd cheered. With Fleet Foxes guitarists Skylar Skjelset, who also opened, helping out on bass and some synth, the opening song may have been somewhat misleading with its energetic thrust as most of the concert consisted of gauzy songs such as the set-closing “Sparks” and slow-burners such as “Elegy to the Void” and “Space Song.”
Never one to love the spotlight, Legrand was obscured for most of the show in dim light and the shadows of the mane of hair she kept draped over her face. Often gesticulating with her hands and moving her head to the beat, Legrand remained a mysterious, almost hypnotic presence; that is, until she broke the spell with some awkward banter. Flanked by a minimal stage design, the band’s music was sometimes highlighted by strobe lights and a lighting display that suggested a field of stars. However, Beach House is never a band about big flourishes. It’s the details that count the most.
Though remaining on foot and stock still for 90 minutes can be a chore, the audience was enraptured and respectful, cheering and whistling when the band played favorites such as “Myth” and “Silver Soul.” This isn’t the type of music to stand around to and shoot the shit. During the songs, the audience watched in appreciative silence. No one is expected to pump their fist and sing along at a Beach House show and that’s just fine.