Review: Beach House at First Avenue

The Baltimore-based duo brought a more expansive sound Tuesday night, catching the First Avenue crowd in a trance.

Beach House performs a sold out show at First Avenue on Tuesday night.

Blake Leigh

Beach House performs a sold out show at First Avenue on Tuesday night.

Joseph Kleinschmidt


Victoria Legrand’s voice never faltered in last night’s concert, consistently enthralling the sold-out First Avenue crowd. The Beach House vocalist sang behind a thick matte of hair with her unmistakable elegant delivery propelling each song. Sultry and eerily affecting, Legrand’s voice sounds completely antiquated for a contemporary audience—but that’s her romantic appeal.

Tracks from this year’s latest effort “Bloom” and 2010’s “Teen Dream” stood out in the batch of airy pop, but mostly the night’s music bled together. The pair’s insatiable appetite for consistency makes for a blended live affair. Vocals on top of the layered guitars and organs drive each song, with Legrand exploring new hooks each time around.

Although no Beach House song really wavers from a long-held method, the band still finds captivating ways to exploit their own boundaries. Their ingenuity lies in these boundaries they create for themselves; limits define and continue to blossom a sound not too ostentatious or intimate.

 With Legrand’s vocals and organ riffs against Alex Scally’s slide guitar, Beach House first bloomed with the intimate bedroom melancholy. Now they sound poised to play the Orpheum. In front of wall monochromatic panels, the   performance’s grandeur found a crowd completely absorbed.

“Wild” set the tone of the concert early on, with an upbeat keyboard melody driving the song. Midway through the set, “The Hours” effectively worked the band’s blueprint, with Legrand’s timeless voice alongside a flood of melodies. Beach House’s musical reliability lends to the band’s live performance where sounds expertly replicate, usually reinforce, the recorded version.

When Beach House formed in 2004, Legrand and Scally used a programmable drum machine to back their self-titled debut. Now with touring drummer and percussionist Daniel Franz, the band realizes fuller sound capable of causing First Avenue’s main room to sway in appreciation.

The band cast an evocative, glow on the young crowd, something that could have worn thin with another band too self-indulgent or intent on setting a certain mood. But Beach House never drives one aspect too far because in excess, the overly sentimental quickly turns sour.

This fact still didn’t seem to prevent the folks in front of me from wallowing in each other’s lusty affection. For reference, I spent the better half of an hour behind a couple swapping spit. The couple, entwined in one another’s arms, seemed to only part from one another’s locked lips to breathe between songs. The whole sight made me kind of claustrophobic.

Beach House evaded any sort of overly nauseating intimacy with a detached quality to Legrand’s aloof yet intimate vocals. Cloaked in the dreamy aesthetics of another era, the band never lingered with the crowd too long—something I can’t say about the interlocking jaws in front of me.