All words: Nina Slesinger
All photos: Sam Graves
Beach House’s Teen Dream is unquestionably one of the best records of the year. It’s brimming with dreamy, ethereal pop with androgynous vocals (courtesy of Victoria Legrand), all coated in a layer of gauze. While Devotion was a good album, Teen Dream is the band’s first to feel like a definitive work–cohesive, singular, and beautiful.
So, naturally I was looking forward to seeing them play the first stop of their U.S. tour here at the Black Cat.
The show started with New Zealand’s Bachelorette. It was clear to see why she was chosen to open for Beach House: her songs were breezy and serene, but unfortunately they didn’t translate in a live setting. Her one-woman act was endearing (and the ample use of a looping pedal was impressive) but while hearing her play I couldn’t help thinking how I would’ve preferred to have her music pulsing through headphones while lying on my bed.
Victoria Legrand, Alex Scally, and a third percussion player came on stage to rapturous applause. They opened with “Walk in the Park” and kept moving at a pleasant pace through tracks off of Teen Dream and Devotion. For the first half of the show, all I felt was pleasant. The songs sounded the same as they did on the record and I didn’t feel particularly engaged in the live show. At that point, I felt Beach House was a band that writes beautiful songs, but couldn’t translate the beauty live. My mood changed drastically when they played “Zebra.” Finally I felt absorbed in the music and the energy. The other highlight was set-closer “Take Care,” which rocked pretty hard for such a dreamy love song.
When Legrand and Scally did speak, they were charming. As the clock struck midnight during their set, Legrande noted that we were now entering “the galaxy of Saturday.” She herself seemed from another galaxy. Hunched over her keyboard, she thrashed her bushy hair and gazed into what I can only assume was the ether. Only adding to the spacey effect were the pinata-esque set decorations, which caught light and glittered ever so softly, perfectly complementing the tone of the music.
While the set did take a few songs to really take off, I left the Black Cat smiling and totally won-over. The crowd was appreciative and happy and the whole show had good vibes around it.