Beach House makes the kind of dreamy pop music that accommodates napping, babymaking, and quietly bobbing one’s head. Yet last night, frontwoman Victoria Legrand proved that one more activity fits the list — head banging.
You wouldn’t think such harsh movements could be associated with atmospheric organ playing or shimmering slide guitar, but the Beachland Ballroom’s sold out crowd watched in fascination as Legrand took control of the performance with some rash head thrashing and vocals that came straight from the gut and emerged as pure airy perfection.
Alex Scally, the other half of Baltimore’s Beach House, bobbed along peacefully, alternating between finger picking and using a slide on his electric guitar. His playing was pure, unencumbered beauty, each note a droplet of water that sizzled the minute it blended with Legrand’s warm crooning and the antique sound of her organ.
The two were joined by a live drummer who fleshed out the songs of Teen Dream, their third and most recent album, with a pulsing fever. The heat spread through the ballroom, literally.
“I don’t know about you guys,” remarked Legrand between songs, “but I’m feeling like a rotisserie chicken.”
Teen Dream songs like “Walk in the Park,” “Used to Be,” and “Lover of Mine” started the night on an entrancing note, which continued as Beach House played “Gila” and “Master of None,” two tracks from their first two albums.
Five huge metallic prisms rotated behind the band, giving off the same kind of hypnosis as the music. At the start of “Take Care,” Legrand pointed in the air, simultaneously triggering the Beachland to start up their disco ball. The mood was fitting — but the band didn’t keep things too heavy.
At one point Scally joked, “This is the part of the set where we play Celine Dion covers,” before launching into “Zebra.”
Beach House’s encore included the intimate, almost pained “Real Love,” and the richly textured “10 Mile Stereo,” where the Scally’s guitar wrapped languorously around the reverb-drenched organ chords.
By the end of the night, members of the crowd seemed eager to close their eyes and absorb the throb and ebb of the beat. After a long day, nothing seemed more fitting than sharing a relaxing evening with fiercely talented musicians and a crowd full of the most laid back folks in Cleveland. Next time, maybe we’ll get the guts to join in on the head banging. — Danielle Sills