Five years in the making, my quest to see Beach House live in concert is finally complete. The dream pop duo from Baltimore, and one of my absolute favorite bands, stopped in New York City this week to play three sold out shows at Webster Hall. They are amidst a global tour, after dropping two albums, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, just two months apart at the end of last year.
Beach House Live in NYC
The band, consisting of guitarist/keyboardist Alex Scally and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/all around muse Victoria Legrand, as well as their touring bassist and drummer, opened with “Beyond Love,” a mesmerizing tune from Depression Cherry. The slow, hazy synths contrasted Scally’s simple guitar riff as deep violet and magenta lighting appeared behind the silhouetted band members.
The next song was met with cheers, as the crowd immediately recognized the programmed drum intro to “Walk in the Park,” a melancholic track off the band’s 2010 triumph Teen Dream. The addition of live percussion completely transformed this song for me. Smashing cymbals ignited the chorus as Legrand sang, “In a matter of time / It would slip from my mind,” while Scally’s blaring Stratocaster underscored her keyboard melody. The fusion of sounds coming from the stage was far more powerful than anything the band could have captured in a studio.
Throughout the night, the stage effects and lighting aggrandized the free-flowing, cosmic sounds of both the band’s 2015 albums. The backdrop lit up with stars during “PPP” and “Silver Soul,” and the beaming spotlights periodically turned onto the crowd, making audience members feel like they were a part of the show. The band mixed up the set list, showcasing new songs as well as old favorites like “Master of None,” a 2006 track that’s been sampled by The Weeknd.
Showcasing Perfect Sound
In every song, Legrand’s psychedelic voice sounded exactly as it does on their recorded albums. In fact, she capitalized on the energy of the live atmosphere by throwing in three or four huge notes during climactic bridges and bellowing choruses, showcasing a vibrato I didn’t know she had and solidifying her authority as a vocalist.
The band closed with their most widely played song, “Myth,” off the 2012 album Bloom. Scally gave the finishing guitar solo a staccato twist before the lights cut out and they walked offstage. The crowd knew it wasn’t quite done yet, however, and coaxed them back out to finish with “Sparks,” the band’s biggest song of 2015. The grungy guitars and droning synth washed over the audience as Legrand repeated the uplifting ending, “Make it / Wave it / Alive.”
Everything about Beach House’s sound is intentional. It makes me nostalgic for things I’ve never even felt. I have the utmost respect for Legrand and Scally’s songwriting and commitment to their artistic vision, and I highly recommend seeing them live if you ever have the chance.
Full Set List
“Beyond Love” — Depression Cherry
“Walk In the Park” — Teen Dream
“PPP” — Depression Cherry
“The Hours” — Bloom
“Silver Soul” —Teen Dream
“Space Song” — Depression Cherry
“10 Mile Stereo” — Teen Dream
“One Thing” — Thank Your Lucky Stars
“Wishes” — Bloom
“Rough Song” — Thank Your Lucky Stars
“Master of None” — Beach House
“Bluebird” — Depression Cherry
“Take Care” — Teen Dream
“Elegy to the Void” — Thank Your Lucky Stars
“Myth” — Bloom
“Sparks” — Depression Cherry
Favorites: It’s so difficult for me to choose but it would have to be a tie between “Walk in the Park,” “Sparks,” and the live version of the 2:18-2:58 mark of “Wishes” (one of my favorite moments in all of music).
What I wish I heard: Majorette, Zebra, and Lover of Mine (and every other song they’ve written, I don’t know).
You can learn more about Beach House and the rest of their tour dates here, or stream their albums on Spotify.