Let’s build the perfect setting for a Beach House show on a Saturday night. How about Los Angeles in the summer? Hard to debate that. What about outdoors? Maybe on a lawn – where people can picnic and stroll around with ample space to roam and view the stage. Food and drink? Nothing crazy, an overpriced beer and taco tent will do. We’ll make it BYOB to be safe. And to make things extra interesting, let’s just say that the lawn is an old cemetery. Sound good?
Such was the setting for the Beach House concert I caught this past weekend at the iconic Hollywood Forever Cemetery in LA. As if the legendary dream-pop duo needed any more assistance creating a supernatural vibe, thousands of old Hollywood spirits and tombstones were on site to add to the aura and enjoy the show. Coming fresh off the release of their newest album 7, Victoria Legrand (vocals/keys), Alex Scally (guitar) and James Barone (drums) took the stage for the second night in a row at one of LA’s most unique places to catch a concert.
Having already seen Beach House once within the last year, I was most looking forward to see how they presented their new record in a live setting. As anticipated, 7 proved to be the show’s main attraction – seven out of the album’s ten tracks found their way into the set list, starting with hypnotic, French inspired “L’Inconnue.” Like so much of the duo’s catalog, these songs take on an entire new life in the live format, and with the noted amount of instrumental experimentation on this last record, the entire performance was fresh and heavy-hitting.
For being so closely associated with the dream-pop label, Beach House has an undeniable alt-rock swagger and mystique. Appearing as only shadows amid the colorful on-stage visuals, Legrand and Scally constantly manipulate their instruments with provocative body language. These theatrics translate into the music as well, notably on the aggressive intro cut from 7, “Dark Spring.” The rapid drumming and piercing guitar chords created an overwhelming adrenaline in the crowd that probably woke up a few corpses.
As bold and enjoyably-noisy as I found many of the songs from 7 to be, I was happy to hear a few of their newest signature slow jams in “Woo” and “Pay No Mind.” Even when you think you’ve experienced Beach House on the most intimate level, their songs have a way of intensifying in the live setting that brings them to exhilarating new heights. This especially goes for their most classic cuts; the mesmerizing swell of “Silver Soul,” the hard rock of “Wishes” and the supersonic rhythm of “10 Mile Stereo” are all essential live experiences. Their music is capable of going different speeds in different directions at the same time. Whichever way it’s going and no matter how fast, it always evokes a magical, fully-realized feeling.