On Thursday, July 19th, The House of Blues welcomed Beach House to Cleveland. Beach House is one of the truly great up and coming indie groups playing today and they only added to their lore at the HOB. For those of you who haven’t yet heard Beach House’s ethereal slow-simmering, melancholic indie pop sound, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. The crowd at the HOB certainly was impressed and they let the band know it in no uncertain terms. The band reciprocated by killing it with their performance. The music can be classified as harmonious and melodic, and yet it has an underlying urgency that makes it intense, timeless and difficult to classify.
Victoria Legrand, the lead singer and organist for the 2 person band from Baltimore, the band also has added a drummer for this tour, is becoming one of the superb female lead vocalists in indie. Her sensuous, ruminating vocals drifted and soared through the choruses, reaching heavenly heights on songs like “Silver Soul”, “Myth”, “Used To Be” and “Norway”. Her gorgeous voice, an amazing contralto that has been compared to Nico and is the band's unmistakable feature, sounded crisp and clear. Alex Scally, the 2nd member of the duo, delivered a seductive accompaniment, playing the slide guitar while Victoria sensuously swayed and shimmied, surrounded by two vintage organs. The surroundings at the HOB also fit the surreal mood of the concert with four industrial sized fans operating behind thick slotted blinds framing the band members.
The set began softly with “Troublemaker” off of their fantastic new album, “Bloom”, with the intensity continuing to build as the 90 minute concert evolved. By the time the band reached its climactic encore conclusion with “10 Mile Stereo” and “Irene”, Victoria was whipping her hair around and channeling the best head bangers. With the corpus of material now available from their 4 albums, and thanks largely to the addition of “Bloom” registering 9 of the 18 songs, the duo definitely now has a full concert’s worth of excellent material.
It’s worth noting that Beach House has been gaining a great deal of popularity, particularly after their last album, “Teen Dream”, ended 2010 as the number 5 best album of the year according to Pitchfork, one of the most prominent web sites for reviews of indie music. Speaking of Pitchfork, Beach House closed the Pitchfork music festival last Sunday in Chicago. It can be expected that “Bloom” will be high on their list this year. In fact, there is a vigorous debate in my family as to which album is better. There aren’t many bands that actually improve over time but this is arguably an exception to the rule. The band is also starting to draw some big name celebrities to their concerts, with Beyoncé and Jay Z having been seen as a recent New York concert.
That brings me to a thought that I had while being mesmerized by the opening chords of “The Hours”, the newest single off of “Bloom”. As you listen to the introduction to the song you are pulled back to the opening refrain from “Because” by The Beatles on the second side of “Abbey Road” (in my opinion the best side of an album Ever…an odd concept in today’s digital age, a side of an album.) Anyway, any time you’re being compared to a band like The Beatles you’re doing something right and Beach House is definitely doing many things right at this point.
The HOB hosted the 28th show on their current tour and the venue provided a wonderful backdrop to the band. Victoria appeared to be comfortable in the setting, at least based on her dialog with the crowd. She said that Cleveland has some of the cutest (present company excepted) and happiest people of any she’s seen on tour. Wild Nothing, which has been opening for Beach House on the current tour, held its own offering a complimentary harmonic, dream-like sound that set the stage well for the main attraction.
This is Beach House’s second visit to Cleveland, they played at the Grog Shop their last time here, and at the rate they’re going you should get your tickets early the next time they’re in town because I have a sneaking suspicion that they will sell out fast. The audience this time around was fortunate to see a band on the ascension, a rare thing in music, and in a venue that was well matched to their beautiful, haunting sound.
Beach House is on Sub Pop Records and their new CD "Bloom" is in stores now.