Showbox at the Market
Thursday, October 4th
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You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd entered an episode of The X- Files as Beach House took the stage last night at the Showbox. Shrouded in smoke, clad in black blazers, and with blinding white beams of light shining from behind and obscuring their faces, the scene was set for an alien abduction. Like their layered, dark sound, their stage setup seemed designed to generate mystery.
*See Also: More photos of Beach House at the Showbox
That all changed when Victoria Legrand opened her mouth. "So this is an all-ages show. How many of you are young people?" got a small crowd response. "Maybe you're embarrassed," she continued. "Don't be. You've got your whole fuckin' life ahead of you. Oh wait, I'm not supposed to swear." Legrand's relatable banter drew back the curtain on the wizard, confirming that rather than shy geniuses or mysterious masters of dream pop, they're regular people who happen to have a really good band.
And good they were. Mixing songs from their latest, Bloom, with previous hits from Teen Dream and Devotion, their set list was satisfying for fans old and new. Their usual drum machine backing was augmented by a live drummer, and the sound, almost perfectly aligned with the recordings, had additional muscle and vibrancy that constantly renewed your interest during the hour-and-a-half set. People even got in the mood to dance, though there was nothing much to dance to. The crowd swayed and a few enterprising ladies found a way to interpret the wall of sound into arm waves and pirouettes.
As their bio notes, Beach House's four albums have a distinct sound that blends together. On the surface, one song is much like the next. But the fatigue that occasionally arises from listening to a whole album was absent in a live setting. Legrand's unique voice, a low rasp like a contralto Stevie Nicks, showed she is the real deal, while Alex Scally's eighties'd-out guitar lines gave hope that the band has entered their Darklands period.
With artists like Dan Deacon, Wye Oak, Future Islands, Cass McCombs, and too many more to list-- oh yeah, Animal Collective-- emerging from Baltimore, the city has to have one of the strongest scenes in the country. There's a common thread of experimentalism in all the groups just mentioned, and a direct counterargument to this article making the internet rounds last week, in which Justin Moyer argues that the "Brooklynization of culture" has killed regional music scenes. Baltimore's scene clearly contradicts that notion. But what does it say about Seattle? Is there a commonality among our artists, or could our bands exist anywhere?
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