The sold out crowd for the Beach House show at Kool Haus in Toronto last Saturday night was treated to a tour de force performance by the Baltimore duo (and touring drummer) on their twelfth performance in Toronto that confirmed their status as indie uber darlings and as an ongoing indictment of the piss poor state of the major record labels. That Beach House wasn't signed to a major label after their breakout album Teen Dream was preposterous; but now, after their magnificent follow up Bloom it's a crime. Such thoughts however were the furthest things from the ecstatic crowd's minds as Beach House bewitched us thoroughly.
But first, we got to enjoy an excellent set from Poor Moon, a damned fine side project from two guys from Fleet Foxes: Christian Wargo and Casey Westcott. A trippy fusion of late 60's unhinged Wilson era Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, and Syd Barrett Pink Floyd, Poor Moon laid down a set that reminded me of a side of The Beach Boys' Smiley Smile, with each song either bleeding into the next or linked by instrumental psychedelic interludes. The reverb drenched psychedelic chamber pop initially caught the crowd off guard, but they caught on soon enough, and it was refreshing to hear truly psychedelic music at a show without a light show, allowing for a keener attention to the musical details: the Hal Blaine drum fills, the xylophone, tambourines, shakers, extensive harmonies, and tasteful vintage songcraft. There was a lot going on, but it all came together and the crowd loved it because it set up the headliner perfectly.
Before I go any further, it should be noted that I am a total fan of Beach House. Teen Dream blew my mind in March 2010, their Town Ballroom show that June sealed the deal, and their opening set for Vampire Weekend in Rochester that October was spectacular, with the genuine feeling of arrival. I have every faith that Beach House will play Buffalo next year (they just gotta), but this year is all about them playing the big markets in support of their excellent fourth album Bloom, and Buffalo's going to have to wait. I however could not, so it was off to Toronto for my third this year. Thankfully everything played out according to plan. No deer were hit on the QEW, the band I intended to see was the band that I ended up seeing (unlike the Radiohead show, which became the free Flaming Lips NXNE show last June), and Beach House were utterly sublime.
There's just something magical and transfixing watching a band almost hide in the shadows and draw you in with their spacious and gorgeous sound. The lights went down, the mist flowed, and out of their artfully placed shadows Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally (with touring drummer Dan Franz) ripped through a powerful set consisting almost entirely of songs from Teen Dream and Bloom; in fact it was the few songs not from those albums that slowed down the intense slow burn and gave us a break from the intensifying slow burn that climaxed with thunderous performances of "Myth,""10 Mile Stereo" and "Irene." It's easy to talk about "atmosphere" and "vibes" at a Beach House show, but in the live context it's their exquisite song craft that shines the most; the way their songs build within themselves until finding release, making for a captivating, almost heightened experience. All while hiding mysteriously behind shadows.
Legrand and Scally owned the Kool Haus crowd for the duration of their set, from the opener "Wild" to the show's potent and almost ecstatic closer "Irene;" Alex Scally laying down magnificent and perfect guitar lines and Victoria Legrand regally yet mysteriously presiding over the reverent and spellbound audience. Indeed, already a cult has formed around Beach House, and deservedly so. Beautifully wrought songs, perfect execution on album and in live performance, glorious and enchanting musicianship, and the careful preservation of their mystery in this age of over-sharing and Twitter... how could there not be a devoted cult around them? Judging by that profound Beach House show last Saturday, it's a cult that will be getting a lot bigger.
Start praying for a Buffalo date next year on Beach House's 2013 tour - it'll be worth it.
And just what the hell is Tor-Buff-Chester you ask (those of you that pay attention to the labels for these blog posts)? Well apparently back in 2006 somebody decided that the megalopolis (a string of cities) concept was making a comeback and the international Toronto-Buffalo-Rochester corridor was on the list. Yippee for us. But seriously, we as Buffalo music fans already knew that because we spend time and money in Toronto and Rochester, and for my money any Buffalo music blog that doesn't ain't worth a hill of beans (buffaBLOG however is indispensable), hence the Tor-Buff-Chester label. My heart of course belongs to Buffalo, but still... megalopolis living might be where it's at.