Fans without tickets lined up hopefully outside the sold-out Bowery Ballroom on May 15th. The hot Baltimore duo Beach House had quickly filled the intimate venue.
Lead singer and keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally, current champions of the “dream pop” sound, were making the final stop of a two-week tour celebrating the release of their fourth record, “Bloom.”
The new tunes stick with what has been working so well, building on the formula of their 2006 self-titled debut.
Joined by drummer Daniel Franz, they kicked off with the new album’s “Wild.” Lit by a white spot, Legrand offered her ethereal voice until a seated Scally cut through the song’s slow burning with rippling guitar.
Legrand’s repetitive synth notes opened “‘Walk in the Park.” A track from their 2010 release, “Teen Dream,” the song was minimal with just a steady drum beat, shakers and a drifty guitar scale.
Again mining “Teen Dream,” they delivered its stand-out “Norway” with a punch. Now on his feet, Scally rang out echoing guitar notes while purple lights shone on Legrand as she delivered shimmering vocals in this tempo-shifting, cat-and-mouse number.
Then the prickly keyboards of “Bloom’s” “Lazuli” evoked an enchanted music box. This is the eerie yet bright world Beach House conjures so well, with Legrand’s voice hanging over Scally’s carpet of plucked strings.
“Gila,” from 2008’s “Devotion,” added to the intensity. The see-sawing new number “The Hours” combined a heavy dose of reverb with shifts from choppy guitar chords to swaying smooth listening -- a balancing act the two do well.
The beauty and power of “Bloom” again came through with the closer, “Myth,” the album’s opening track and first single. It ended with a powerful chorus and an explosion of echoing guitar.
For the encore, Legrand changed her dark blazer to a rainbow-colored blouse, which lent itself to the play of lights.
The slow, numbing “Turtle Island” started the encore, and then gave way to Scally’s juggling guitar notes on “10 Mile Stereo.” As intense as the music was this evening, its most chilling moments came with “Bloom’s” closing number, “Irene.”
Under blue lights, Scally thrashed, Franz pounded and Legrand soared higher and higher as she repeated the line “It’s a strange paradise” over and over -- and then left it on a loop while the three quietly made their getaway.
Beach House is in Europe through mid-June and then returns to the U.S. in July for a national tour. Legrand and Scally have already sold out the meadowy space of Central Park SummerStage on July 23rd.
Here’s a selection of New York-area shows in June. Please note that opening bands aren’t always listed. Shows marked (SO) are sold out, although online services such as Craigslist often have tickets:
June 1 Radiohead/Caribou at Prudential Center (SO) June 2 Lemonade/Teengirl Fantasy/Elite Gymnastics at Music Hall of Williamsburg June 3 Blondes/Holy Ghost (DJ set) at Dekalb Market June 4 Omar Souleyman/Dengue Fever at Webster Hall June 5 Jimmy Cliff at Prospect Park Bandshell (Free) Alejandro Escovedo/Jesse Mallin at Bowery Ballroom June 6 The Walkmen at Bowery Ballroom June 7 Unknown Mortal Orchestra/Doldrums at Mercury Lounge June 8 Rhett Miller & the Serial Lady Killers at Bowery Ballroom June 9 How to Dress Well/Babe Rainbow/Aaron Read at Public Assembly June 10 Bela Fleck & the Marcus Roberts Trio at Blue Note (8:00 & 10:30) June 11 2:54/Widowspeak at Mercury Lounge June 12 Jonathan Richman at Bowery Ballroom June 13 The Maccabees/Wild Belle at Webster Hall June 14 Mogwai at Webster Hall Laura Marling at Prospect Park Bandshell (Free) June 15 Caveman/Frankie Rose at Music Hall of Williamsburg June 16 Dawes/Kurt Vile & the Violators at Central Park SummerStage (Free) June 17 Crystal Stilts/Amen Dunes/Var/Wymond Miles at Glasslands June 18 The Heavy at Mercury Lounge (Late Show) (SO) June 19 The Tallest Man on Earth/Strand of Oaks at Town Hall (SO) June 20 Liars/Oneohtrix Point/Never at Webster Hall June 21 Deer Tick/Jonny Corndawg at Red Hook Park (Free) The Gaslamp Killer at Knitting Factory June 22 The Hives at Terminal 5 Icona Pop at Glasslands June 23 Bowerbirds at Music Hall of Williamsburg June 24 Alabama Shakes/Diamond Rugs/Robert Ellis at Central Park SummerStage (Free) June 25 Ramesh at Glasslands June 26 HITS (Formerly Jump Into the Gospel)/Hussle Club/Slam Donahue at Mercury Lounge June 27 Japandroids/Cadence Weapon at Bowery Ballroom (SO) June 28 Young Magic/Quilt at Glasslands June 29 Akron/Family at Brooklyn Bowl June 30 The Feelies at Maxwell’s
(Jaime Widder works in sales for Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.