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Beach House offers moody, interesting show

Beach House offers moody, interesting show

Beach House, the “dream pop” duo from Baltimore, played Monday night at the Upstate Concert Hall.
Beach House offers moody, interesting show
Alex Scally, left, and Victoria Legrend of the group Beach House are shown in New York on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010.
Photographer: AP Photo/Jim Cooper

CLIFTON PARK — Beach House, the “dream pop” duo from Baltimore, played Monday night at the Upstate Concert Hall.

Victoria Legrand sang all night and played keyboards, Alex Scally played guitar and other soundscapes, both supported by a drummer and another keyboardist/guitarist.

The songs were ethereal, foggy and very methodical. Each new sound layer was introduced deliberately and with attention. Their music floated off the stage, Legrande’s vocals designed to hover within the dream sounds, and not out front as a lead instrument. You could hardly make out her lines, similar to their band member’s physical selves, the light rarely letting more than their silhouettes show.

In the second song, “Levitation,” from their fifth and most recent record, “Depression Cherry” (out this week), the song did exactly what the title suggested: lifted a bit and hovered. The drums gave it some energy, but not a lot of motion. It also weighted down the sound from floating off into the stratosphere, a plus for some, a minus for others.

“Gila” sounded like most of the other tunes, this one simple and comforting enough to be a children’s song with its wistful and lush synthetics. But Beach House cleverly darkens its softer side with volume and a few eerie chord layers.

The songs require the listener to sink in with the texture of the sound, and stay attentive. The show did not look to startle the fans, or do something spontaneously. The half-filled club was very well behaved — too behaved for Legrand, who asked them to make a little more noise between songs.

The music attracts a cerebral, artsy listener. There was very little dancing, some slight swaying, and the rare person who rocked leg to leg to a beat that wasn’t audible to everyone.

Unlike Legrande, Scally thanked the crowd for being “so lovely.” He noted that they had never been to the Capital Region before.

“It is awesome to do this for so many years and come to a new place and have you all here,” he said. He also thanked those in the audience who went on the band’s website and helped “figure out our setlist.”

With intended contrasting tones, Legrande said flatly, “Thanks for choosing us over the television.”

While the differences of the songs were very subtle, “Space Song,” from “Depression Cherry,” felt slightly distinct with Legrand repeating the distant line of the chorus, “fall back into place.”

The songs picked up momentum as the night moved on. At the beginning of “PPP,” the lights brightened with the mood of the song, then dimmed as the intro led way into the darker heart of the song.

There was not a lot of interaction between band members; virtually no musical exchanges. At most there was a slow melting together into a murky liquid-like forward motion of sound.

A few songs started with a lilting, spiraling piano that funneled you up — or down, depending on your perspective. Warm spots would wash through the band’s sound, and vanish, similar to that warm spot in a lake when floating around.

Beach House is a musical performance, for sure, but it’s also an art show, an attempt to play soundtracks to create moods, or encourage contemplation. It was not riveting, or wild, or even fun—instead, it was interesting music, sincere in its understated approach, and certainly good enough to prompt me to check out their new record.

For openers

Romantic States opened the show with a 30-minute set of numerous short songs. Also a co-ed duo from Baltimore—with no other musicians — their songs moved smoothly, drums and guitar trying to fill the sound while the vocals sat high above the sound.

The two of them took turns singing, but never sang together. There was little worth noting about the songs, the musicianship, the energy, or their presence — it felt like a college music major’s final thesis at best, and even for that I can’t be sure they’d get a good grade.

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