As I sat at the top of the stairs at the Commodore Ballroom and looked out at the sold-out Beach House crowd, it occurred to me: more people know about this Baltimore, Maryland band than I would’ve ever given them credit for. Now, I will admit that it’s my own ignorance that makes me write that. And I know I’m ignorant about them, because you know else what I didn’t know? That the lead singer, Victoria Legrand, is female. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t say that to be a smartass or make fun. Beach House’s albums Teen Dream and Bloom are both on constant rotation on my iPhone, and it has never once occurred to me that the smooth, husky voice that lulls me out of whatever angry mood I’m in might be female.
Seriously though, listen to a song and think about it.
Promptly at 10:15pm, Vicky (I’m sure she’d be okay if I called her that), the other half of this duo Alex Scally, and their travelling drummer Daniel Franz glided onto the stage and began to serenade us. They opened the show with “Wild” off their latest release Bloom and the crowd went nuts. In fact, these guys played so many songs off those two albums in such quick succession that I didn’t expect there’d be anything left for their inevitable encore. Beach House is a great live band, but I couldn’t help but get the feeling that they were trying to hide from us. Aside from a few quick instances of full-stage lighting, each one of them was shrouded in shadows while carefully choreographed spotlights danced around them. I might have been sitting too far from the stage, but for the most part that stage remained a dark place. And if they were trying to hide, it would certainly explain the sudden, last-minute banning of professional photographers a mere hour before the doors were set to open. Isn’t more publicity better than none at all?
One of the things I got from the show was that I’ve discovered is that I enjoy when bands engage the crowd in some way. Sure, we’re there to listen to them play their songs, but if you’ve ever been to an Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes show, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I want the show to give me something more. Something special that feels like our own little secret with the band. Something to make me feel like seeing them live is far better than watching them perform on television. Beach House plays great, they sound great, and they certainly got the crowd very excited for even their mellowest songs like “On the Sea”. The couple next to me were perhaps the most excited as they wouldn’t stop making out to them all while also bumping into me.
Although maybe it’s simply about the music and they didn’t want us to be distracted by their entertaining shenanigans or good looks. They played for a solid hour and a half including an encore. And in that time, I enjoyed all 17 songs that they played like “Lazuli”, “Used to Be”, “Gila”, “Other People”, “Troublemaker”, and the two encore songs “Myth” and “Irene”.