Concert Review: Beach House, March 30, Opera House

Ricky’s magic* iPhone photography ©2010

With an album like Teen Dream, it’s no surprise that 2010 has been Beach House‘s mass (I use this term loosely)-breakout year. Yeah yeah, I know Pitchfork loved them after their debut in 2006, but no one I know was really paying attention at that time. Flash forward four years to 2010 and they are playing to sold-out crowds all across major cities North of El Rio Grande.

It has been a bit of a slow burn for Baltimore duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, which in today’s fully internet-driven flash-in-the-pan indie world is I think, a good thing. They have attracted quite the following three albums in and, as is known to most Panic Manual-ers, have made me absolutely smitten.  Teen Dream is already my top pick for best of 2010 and while the year is still young I can guarantee you that they will not be dislodged from a top three placing. I often think of this album in majestic road trip terms and wide open spaces, empty highways and emotional freedom.

The show itself was a Teen Dream exhibition. The duo (and touring drummer whose name I couldn’t rustle up) hasn’t been in Toronto for two years, and only a small selection of Devotion songs were hand-picked. Fine by me. Hearing Teen Dream in its entirety was something I was hoping for but not fully expecting. They went on right as planned at 10:30 and barely paused to catch their breath for the next hour. Light attempts at chit-chat were made and other than a couple of awkward mumblings by Alex, Victoria handled most of it blurting out “We built this city on rock and roll…wait, why did I just say that? Sorry that was one of those dorky moments…”. She also won more hearts over by saying “Toronto is one of those cities that for one reason or another, is magical”.

Ricky has noted that their performance was kind of akin to listening to the album on an iPod in Shuffle mode with the volume turned up. I can’t really argue with that–their set was impeccable but lacked any serious variation from the studio recordings, which begs the question of “Should a band sound different live than they do on their album?” This is one that continuously comes up and my answer is always, if the band created an air of intimacy, I couldn’t care less if their show is a  note for note replica, because there are bound to be subtle differences either way. As always, I thought the percussion was a lot more prominent live than on the album. Other observations: that Alex’s guitar was just a bit too quiet, that Victoria sounds like a more soulful kick-ass 21-st century version of Kim Carnes (the one hit husky smoker voiced Bette Davis Eyes vocalist), and that Sub Pop really needs to give their more prominent up and coming bands more than $30 to spend at a party supply store.

So what the heck was up with those twirling Christmas-ornament things, anyway?

Furthermore, what was up with Alex Scally’s pr0n star moustache (for the love of God you’re a good looking guy–please shave it off!), Victoria Legrand’s shoulder-padded white three-quarter lengthed blazer, Dynasty gold jewelry, and cut off  arm warmers, and the lack of Apple Orchard throughout the set? The truth is, that at the end of the day none of this really matters. Beach House delivered a spine-tingly sonic yet mellowly acoustic show last night. Well worth every penny of the $14 I paid.

SET LIST: (thanks to teshsayspeace)

Walk in the Park
Lover of Mine
Better Times
Silver Soul
Master of None
Used to Be
Heart of Chambers
Take Care


Real Love
10 Mile Stereo

Best: Walk in the Park, Silver Soul, and I think everyone will agree 10 Mile Stereo all made our heads implode from eargasms.

Wouldn’t it be Nice if: Chamber organs were portable? I’d love to hear these guys in a church someday. The acoustics would be amazing.

*Legal notice: By magic I really mean, “awful”.

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything

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6 Responses to Concert Review: Beach House, March 30, Opera House

  1. M

    They played Master of None from the debut! I was personally hoping for Saltwater, but I wasn’t optimistic or anything. Anyway, a beautiful, beautiful show.

  2. p

    Great Show.

    the setlist (in order) was as mentioned by last fm user “teshsayspeace” –

    walk in the park, lover of mine, gila, better times, norway, silver soul, master of none, astronaut, used to be, zebra, heart of chambers, take care. encore: real love, 10 mile stereo. (master of none is off their s/t debut.

  3. ac

    too bad ur thing doesnt say REQUIRED email… my whole comment just got deleted.

    loved the show. and the fist pumping.

  4. Allison

    Sorry about that ac. Glad everyone enjoyed the show and thanks for the setlist. I’ve made some corrections to the original post.

  5. Gold Buyer

    Great show! My favourite “Astronaut” was there.

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