It’s No Good Unless It’s Real: Beach House at King’s Theatre, Brooklyn (11/3/16)

by Julia Medina

On Thursday, November 3rd, crowds of quirky but well-dressed people filtered into the newly refurbished King’s Theatre in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Having traveled all the way from Yale to the theatre, I was among them, also quirky, maybe not as well dressed.

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Beach House came out a couple minutes after nine, and with no introduction, started to play Levitation, the opening track off of 2015’s Depression Cherry. The crowd was thrilled but the cheers soon turned to awed silence. It stayed that way for most of the show. We cheered wildly after each song and occasionally applauded a particularly powerful vocal moment during a song, but the audience was mostly quiet, appreciating the music.

Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, the members of Beach House, were accompanied by a bassist and a drummer, which resulted in a full, magnificent sound. Legrand was wearing a sparkling coat in keeping with the astral theme of the show (and, perhaps, the band’s music as of recently).

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What set this concert apart from many others is what I must call “magical” moments: when the sublime quality of the music, the perfectly timed lighting effects, and the feeling of thousands of kindred spirits in a beautiful space came together to create an experience that was utterly transcendent.

Legrand’s vocals were impressive. Her voice seems to float on every record, and while it’s always pleasant and often moving, it isn’t clear how strong her voice is and how wide her range is. At King’s Theatre last week, she made it perfectly clear, riffing and improvising on several songs much to the delight of her fans. She’s been quoted saying Beach House isn’t “dreamy” or passive music, and that Beach House is “a loud band. OK, so it’s not abrasive, but it’s definitely all-encompassing and it’s not soft.” This was also clear at the concert; the band’s sound absolutely filled the theater. Definitely “all-encompassing.”

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They played a great mix of songs from their records, evenly drawing from Teen Dream, Bloom, and Thank Your Lucky Stars, and relying most heavily on Depression Cherry. There was only one song from each of the first two records. While I would have appreciated “D.A.R.L.I.N.G.”, a gem from Devotion, their selection of “Heart of Chambers” was pleasant and well-received. “Master of None” from Beach House, their self-titled debut, brought about one of the magical moments: Victoria raised her voice to the point of a scream as she sang the most powerful line of the song: “Jack of all trades / Master of none / Cry all the time cause I’m / Not having fun.”

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“Majorette offered” a turning point of the concert. It was the first song they played off of Thank Your Lucky Stars, their most recent album. As the catchy drum line began, a projection on rectangular screens behind the band began to show a black-and-white video of a woman figure skating. From this point on, the lights and effects were used much more. LeGrand and Scally always stayed silhouetted by lights from behind.

“Wishes,” off of Bloom, was one of the more spectacular songs of the concert. Each time the song drew to the chorus, gold strobe light scanned the crowd, starting at the front and moving up to the balconies and then the ceiling of the theatre. Again, magical.

Other particularly incredible songs were “PPP,” “Take Care,” and “Elegy to the Void,” which romped on about twice as long as the recorded version and ended in an explosion of sound. The crowd erupted when the band played “Myth,” their most popular single. The encore was an elongated, mystical version of “Days of Candy,” which is also the final song on Depression Cherry.

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I, for one, was overcome with emotion several times during the show. The live performance offered what no recorded version ever could: wild changes in dynamics, lighting effects perfectly timed with the music emphasizing particularly powerful moments, and transcendent vocals. As “Days of Candy” permeated the space, the lyrics “I know it comes too soon / The universe is riding off with you” suddenly made all the sense in the world.

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The Setlist

Levitation
Wild
Walk in the Park
PPP
Heart Of Chambers
Majorette
Space Song
10 Mile Stereo
Rough Song
New Year
Master Of None
Wishes
Beyond Love
Elegy to the Void
Take Care
Sparks
Myth

Encore: Days of Candy

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