Concert review: Beach House & Jessica Pratt at First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN – September 22 and 23, 2015

Published by JB on September 24, 2015

Beach House & Jessica Pratt at First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN – September 22 and 23, 2015

“All I know’s what I see, and I can’t live without this.”

During a recent, open interview in FACT magazine (by Chal Ravens in July 2015) Alex Scally said, “..So we went to our booking agents and said can we not have any shows above 1,500?”   True to form, and shying away from larger Minneapolis/St. Paul venues like the State Theater or the Myth (which would have been a wonderful pun – hinting back at the opening single from 2012’s Bloom), Beach House sold out their second night during the final hours leading up to Wednesday’s second gig.   First Avenue actually holds about 1800 on a sold-out night, which is about 300-400 more than it should hold.   When you can feel the breath of the person behind you on the back of your neck and it’s 89 degrees inside and 68 degrees outside – it speaks to the level of intimacy here, good or bad.   Every potential sightline to Legrand’s face was taken up 30 minutes before the show.

Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally took the beauty of 2012’s Bloom one step further with2015-09-22_BeachH_D3_28mm-8058 2015’s Depression Cherry.  It’s a fairy tale tour de force of songs that levitate (bad pun) from one to the next – like a baton being handed to the next runner.  Each track sounding familiar, yet unique enough to stand alone and then run on its own.   On record they’ve created a new three-dimensional sound of serenity that sounds one part Cocteau Twins, one part My Bloody Valentine and one-third of their own proprietary fine mix of tea.   Thrown together in a live setting in front of adoring fans, Beach House is home.

Overdubs are nonexistent, the light show is minimal and the focus is generally focused on the guitar wheeling of Scally and the seemingly overt shyness of Legrand.   Whether it’s intended or not, and despite her professed love of being on the road, Legrand hides behind her flowing hair – which stands out as the most notable stage prop.   From behind her hair you can sometimes see her eyes, or her lips move.  But not often.  At other times, you simply cannot and it becomes both her shield and her impetus of mystery – as if her hair are the same clouds that she sometimes peers out of to drop new Beach House tunes every 2-3 years.  On these two nights, she peers out long enough to become the most prominent instrument onstage.  The songs aren’t carried by the dark, mesmerizing light show or Scally’s beautiful guitar work – those are the givens.  The undeniable Beach House sound is focused around Legrand’s voice.

Opening each show with ‘Levitation’, the opening track on Depression Cherry, and closing both nights with ’10 Mile Stereo’, most of what happened in between was different between the two nights.   The shattering and stellar ‘Beyond Love’ showed up on night two where as ‘Zebra’ was a showcase on night one.  New tracks ‘Wildflower’, ‘Sparks’ and ‘Space Song’ were devastatingly beautiful, showing the the past beauty of Bloom wasn’t the band’s highpoint.

Beach House has become scary good; reinventing themselves enough with a new album and new tour that keeps their reputation in tact, yet different enough to still envision undoubtable growth in their sound and a surplus inward momentum to be even better.   The painful, soaring guitar work of Scally on ‘Sparks’ was enough of an unforeseen left turn to make this point clear to both fans and critics alike.   They stand second to no one today.

–TWTHS

Setlists for Sept 22 and 23 are below:

Levitation
Wild
Walk in the Park
PPP
Gila
Silver Soul
Wishes
Wildflower
Zebra
Heart Of Chambers
Space Song
Myth
Sparks
Encore:
10 Mile Stereo

Levitation
Gila
PPP
Wildflower
Other People
Norway
10:37
The Hours
Space Song
Take Care
Astronaut
Myth
Beyond Love
Wishes
Sparks
Encore:
10 Mile Stereo

 

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