Arts & Entertainment, The Muse

Teen Dream come true

Beach House has made a huge leap from its 2008 album Devotion on Carpark to its 2010 Sub Pop debut Teen Dream, and the band’s live show has been amped up accordingly from the occasionally sleepy sounds of its back catalog. On Sunday night, they played a sold-out show at the Paradise, and they absolutely delivered on their expanded sound.

New Zealand electropop artist Bachelorette opened with her arsenal of loop pedals and a sequencer, allowing her songs to unfold slowly as she repeatedly layered her voice on top of simple chord progressions. On the first few cuts, it was often hard to see the direction in which the music was going, as melodies seemed to dangle, detached from the song, but her style is to fill in holes slowly as she alternates bubbling vocals with herself. Most of her instruments were prerecorded, and the sequencer was crucial to the changes in her music. Later in her set, the songs didn’t seem to develop much, but would suddenly swell into a chorus of her singing. Her shy, gracious attitude lent a welcoming vibe to the venue before Beach House took the stage.

Beach House’s already sultry music was made even more enveloping by the dim stage setup, aside from a few glittering geometrical objects lit in different colors from below. The band opened its set with “Walk in the Park,” one of the most complex songs from Teen Dream, in which live drums added a vast depth to the chorus, and the key changes in the outro pushed the song to a chilling climax.

“Lover of Mine” was also given a fuller sound with heavy bass resonating under guitarist Alex Scally’s falsetto background vocals. Then singer and keyboardist Victoria Legrand took a moment to check in with the audience: “Can everybody see and feel and hear things? Is this happening?” and the band slid into an impeccable rendition of Devotion’s “Gila,” with Legrand’s vocals spot-on and rich.

Teen Dream doesn’t often feel epic, but some songs take a completely different context live: single “Norway” featured heavier drums, and the galloping chorus pounded with that extra weight, while Legrand and Scally harmonized dreamily. Album highlight “Silver Soul” felt woozy as Scally riddled his slide guitar playing with vibrato.

The band made sure to include several older cuts for its longtime fans, such as the sparkling “Master of None” from its debut and Devotion’s “Astronaut,” whose bridge throbbed with tom accents. “Zebra” took off slowly, while “Heart of Chambers” captivated with its soaring melody.

Beach House’s most mind-blowing renditions, however, came with its closing numbers. Legrand introduced “Take Care” as the goodnight song, then proceeded to hit all the high notes perfectly as the song spun slowly like a locked groove, Victoria’s voice spiraling hopefully through the promise: “I’ll take care of you, if you ask me to,” before the band cut off all too abruptly. They only played one song for the encore, “10 Mile Stereo,” but it was perhaps their “biggest” sounding performance, they covered the last chorus with huge drums and hazy shoegaze guitar.

Beach House has fully adapted its live set to its change in sound, and the hour-plus-long performance felt brief in its pop perfection, not to mention the band’s friendly stage presence. They are absolutely worth seeing, especially with all the possibilities that their career could hold as their sound continues to develop.

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