Coachella goers were not the only lucky ones on Friday night. For those who received voicemails garbled by loud festival music, Beach House provided us the chance to send back clear messages filled with indie rock’s best dream pop music.
Once the Baltimore-based duo took the stage at SOhO it was apparent that this would be an intimate and memorable concert. Standing under blue lights while silver props spun behind them, the band pulled right into the rolling rhythm of Teen Dream’s “Walk in the Park.” There was no need for arches, or the slow burn of incense for Beach House to transform the red-bricked club into a sort of musical sanctuary. With Victoria Legrand’s breezy voice the audience was lifted.
It is safe to say Santa Barbara has not seen another band move so touchingly through their set list. Beach House played hit after hit, from their track “Used to Be” to their final song, “10 Mile Stereo,” with a deliberateness that deepened the experience.
Yet what made the show enthralling was not the pacing or the vocal harmonies that stayed suspended in the listener well after the last beat. No, Beach House is too talented to be merely ambient. Instead, it’s is the band’s simplicity that so intuitively guided each song. And nothing proved this more than guitarist Alex Scally’s incantatory picking during “Zebra,” which pitter-pattered against Legrand’s Yamaha tones before taking its full shape when drummer Daniel Franz’s percussion fell into place.
Equally impressive was the way each ephemeral echo and off-kilter verse of “Norway” gained technical strength from Legrand’s lyrics. It was as if each musician’s energy was in accord with the emotional underpinnings of the song, creating a sense of nostalgia that was nearly tangible.
So while some in Indio were already sticky with sweat, those of us at SOhO found ourselves reaching into a music laden with sentiment, yet melodious and catchy enough to avoid sentimentality. I can only imagine how well Beach House might have slept on their trip through the Californian desert to perform the next night for a wilder, louder crowd.