Paradiso, situated in Amsterdam’s centre, seems like a venue made for Beach House. The once-church, turned concert hall has a dreamlike ambiance, and the acoustics lends itself to music that echoes and reverberates. It’s a place where Beach House’s colossal music takes on even greater dimensions.
After the release of two consecutive albums in just a three month period, this tour was something I couldn’t miss. The duo, Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, accompanied by Skylar Skjelset (bass guitar) and Graham Hill (drums) entered as black silhouettes against a haunting blue. The sold out show opened with “Levitation,“ a track from Depression Cherry released in August of this year. The song set an almost surreal mood; “There’s a place I want to take you/When the unknown will surround you.”
From start to finish, the live performance felt like the audience had together entered into a trance, which was enhanced by alternating mood lighting of red and blue (from “Somewhere Tonight“: “Red and blue combination/Old man finds elation/Love me see what I see tonight”) and moments of a twinkling backdrop akin to a galaxy of luminescent stars (from “The Traveller“: “I was looking out of the window at the sky/Starless vigil of a life that has gone by/Saturn turning and I feel there’s not much more/For a vision of the night turn off your light”).
As Scally became entrenched in his guitar and instrumental spread complete with the keyboard and bass pedals, Legrand’s signature vocals echoed into the hall. Although at times the duo seemed lost in their music, they were constantly working off one another, exchanging encouraging glances when the music would hiccup (the band had to restart two songs during their set, in part due to the dark lighting). This dynamic allowed the band to create an environment with their music together–an environment where the audience was invited along.
Highlight tracks of the evening included “Space Song,” “10 Mile Stereo,” “All of Your Yeahs,” and “Irene.” Although there were stand-outs, the live show remained rather consistent throughout; each song being afforded its peak moment. The band concluded the show with three encore songs: “Saltwater,” “Majorette,” and “Irene.“ “Saltwater,” the first song off their self-titled debut album from 2006, and “Majorette,” the intro track on their most recent LP Thank Your Lucky Stars (released in October via Sub Pop), played one after another and spoke to the band’s history. It was a testament not only to their growth, but also to the consistency of their craft and a commitment to their sound for the past ten years.
Beach House is one of the most reliable bands of this time and their live show preaches that.
Despite the hypnagogic quality of their music, I didn’t get the sense that Beach House were there to put on an elaborate display. The band is undeniably authentic — true to their music that, from their live show, you can see they wholeheartedly believe in. Towards the end of their set, Legrand apologized to the audience for not knowing Dutch, but then asserted, “It’s okay because we speak the language of music.” During the hour and a half show, everyone seemed to understand that language.
Beach House’s live show makes you believe in something. What that ‘something’ is, I’m still not sure; but as I made my way out of that once place of worship, I left a believer.
For a list of Beach House’s tour dates, visit their website.