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Dream Pop Darlings Beach House Hypnotize Wiltern Crowd: Concert Review

The Beach House Wiltern - P 2012
Chris Godley
From left: Alex Scally, Victoria Legrand and Daniel Franz

The Bottom Line

The Baltimore-bred duo entranced an audience of Angelenos with a modest and focused performance that featured gentle melody lines and reverb-soaked vocals.

Venue

The Wiltern Theatre
Los Angeles
(Tuesday, Sept. 25)
 

The Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House cast a romantic spell over the Wiltern Theatre on Tuesday, playing a well-arranged set of new and old songs that moved many couples to heavy embrace and others to dance and sing in a conjured state of heartfelt longing. Has the gig gone any longer, and heavy petting might have ensued.

It's an apt sentiment considering the band’s trademark sound. Singer and keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally glide and swish through gently hypnotic melody lines through the former's deep, reverb-soaked vocals. As the two took the stage (with drummer Daniel Franz) in complete darkness, dressed in black and launching into the organ drone of “Wild,” one could spot former Saturday Night Live castmember and Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig excitedly hurrying into the nearly 2,000-capacity Art Deco auditorium. Just another super-fan, it would seem. 

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Behind the band stood four slated boxes, taller than the performers, and each held an industrial fan turning at a snail's pace. Playing “Walk in the Park,” the entrancing track off 2010’s Teen Dream, the background turned a brilliant green as the constructions washed out with striking yellow and then purple light. Throughout the show, as the band’s movement around the stage was minimal, this modest, modern styled set doubled as a stunning visual focal point, accompanying the music with shifts in color and tone. Sometimes they would appear like a fiery magenta-and-rose sunset and other times as a peaceful nighttime cityscape with stars twinkling behind them. For the more intense moments, almost all the stage lighting would cut out with just a spotlight on Legrand shining through one of the fans, the slats and blades cutting the light beam into dozens of strands. It was fantastically mesmerizing -- and not only for those on mind-bending drugs.

“Thank you for joining us tonight,” Legrand said to the audience before playing the slow-building “Troublemaker” from this year’s Bloom release. 

She didn’t address the crowd much and Scally spoke only once as they rolled through song after song efficiently enough to fit 20 into less than an hour-and-a-half onstage. But when Legrand did speak, it was pleasant; she never seemed aloof or detached, just focused. And the music was intimate enough that the audience hardly seemed starved for banter.

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Later, following “Lazuli” from Bloom, she was more playful. “You guys getting hot?” she asked, then forcefully she retorted, “You’d better be.” Legrand apologized quickly and charmingly with a laugh for her bossiness and began the heavy “Silver Soul,” carrying the audience away into the song’s tempting rhythms with her floating voice.

There was an overwhelming consistency to Beach House's set, not so much in that the band’s music sounds more or less the same, but as one of indie rock’s biggest acts, they've practically earned a blanket copyright on the style. The variance is subtle between tracks, as even the washed-out vocals are uniformly difficult to make out. This, of course, begs the question: what are all these people singing along really saying?

Then again, that power is what carried Tuesday’s show. Beautiful and self-assured, Beach House gave fans a sentimental badge to take with them onto the city streets, and that feels nice.  

Set List:

Wild
Walk in the Park
Troublemaker
Norway
Better Times
Gila
Used to Be
Other People
Lazuli
Silver Soul
Master of None
The Hours
On the Sea
New Year
Zebra
Wishes
Take Care
10 Mile Stereo

Encore:

Myth
Irene

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