beach house [2011]

Fillmore Auditorium
San Francisco, CA
18 Feb 2011

“Ok. I’m here…dying.”

Is what my friend texted me, when I told her I was on my way over to pick her up.

Beach House has been her favorite band of the past couple of years and she certainly wasn’t going to let a mild fever and head cold keep her away. And so we braved on through the pouring rain and subsequent Friday night bridge traffic, repeatedly reassuring ourselves that we’d made the right choice.

One amazing parking spot and two bowls of restorative Korean tofu soup later, we were actually ready (no longer simply posturing).

We began the show sitting up in The Fillmore balcony. Great for lounging. Not so great for seeing the stage. But hey, when you’re sick, who wants to stand?

Apparently, the answer is: my friend, because she couldn’t accept making it all the way out to the show and not experiencing it fully.

And it truly was an experience. Beach House is basically the duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally (joined by a drummer for performances). Legrand’s amazing powerful and sultry voice (along with her skilled keyboard playing) leads the way and Scally’s guitar drives them forward.

Their music is fluid and sensual, somehow both haunting and warm: looking out over the ocean on a freezing winter night, hands safely tucked inside sweater pockets.

The show’s lighting captured this perfectly, replete with starry night above. Below, three back-lit camping-tent-like structures framed each of the musicians with a varying spectrum of beautiful color.

I have to admit, Beach House’s recordings have often proven flat in their sameness: beauty without contrast. A gorgeous plateau, but a plateau nonetheless.

Live, it was a different story. The music was vibrant as ever, but now it also seemed so much more varied, a revelatory tide of emotion. Powerful bass swelled out from the stage, carrying an enraptured, screaming crowd along for the ride.

And, in the end, there was no sitting for my friend. She had been hopelessly and happily swept away. For this night at least, death would have to wait.