Beach House - live in Providence (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Beach House

live in Providence (2015)

live show

Man, it's been almost three years since I last saw Beach House, but that makes sense, given that it was when they released their last record, 2012's excellent Bloom. They were playing at Wilbur Theater in Boston then, and I was up in the balcony seating with a section of the crowd who just didn't feel like standing at all for the set. While Lupo's here in Providence actually fits 300 more people, this was the far more intimate show for me since I snagged a GA ticket and a standing spot much closer to the stage.

Fellow Baltimore duo Romantic States opened the show, and while it's interesting and rare to go into a show these days totally clueless about the opener, the act wasn't much of a pleasant surprise or great new discovery. The guitar-and-drums pair played very laid-back, strummy power-pop of sorts--some of the vocals reminded me of Surfer Blood, actually, but this was like an exemplified version of the more boring parts from that band's newest album. There were some smiles from them here and there, but they had a sort of blasé demeanor that probably contributes to their sound being mostly lethargic and unenthusing. There were a couple cool parts, like one where the guitar sounded kinda Slint-y over spare percussion. But all told, I was glad they kept things inside of a half-hour.

I've heard some criticism about Beach House's live show lately, whether it be poor performance, little stage movement or bad sound. While sure, there ain't much physical activity, I wouldn't expect it from the band's dreamy, swaying sound, and they actually sounded pretty fantastic throughout the set's course. (Frontwoman Victoria Legrand shimmied a little bit during one of the later songs, granted, while guitarist Alex Scally sometimes just straight-up sat down for a song.) They played as a four-piece for most of the set, which helped to avoid leaving out some of that pretty studio sparkle, and had some cool silken column things on stage that had random videos and light patterns projected on them throughout for some visual treats.

While I'm surprised they've seemingly removed "Norway" from recent set lists, which is a bummer as it's a contender for their best song, opening with the nearly decade-old "Master of None" was a pretty cool consolation prize. They played a good chunk from their then-unreleased new album, Depression Cherry, which all sounded quite good, a fair number from Bloom and Teen Dream, and one apiece off the two oldest LPs. Set closer "10 Mile Stereo" seemed to get off to a sloppy start, with Legrand jumping in suddenly and everything seeming out of sync for a moment, but it was a rare stumble.

Like one might expect from a massively popular act, the band were warmly received, with loud cheers for their more popular cuts like "Myth" and "Wild". Most of them were pretty laid back, too, except for a couple of weird assholes who slowly shoved their way up front and waved their arms around enough to block views for half the set. Otherwise there was a great atmosphere, and just as the band manages to do on record, things feel immersive when the sound is full and star projections cover the band, stage, and walls.

Set list (10:00-11:17):

Master of None
On the Sea
Walk in the Park
Space Song
Silver Soul
Beyond Love
Encore (11:19-11:30):
Wherever You Go
10 Mile Stereo