The critic-coined dream pop genre provided a ripple in the 80’s from groups like The Cocteau Twins and one-hit wonders such as The Dream Academy (do remember, “Life In A Northern Town”). The movement was revived by Baltimore duo, Beach House, with their eponymous 2006 debut.
BH has crafted an ethereal sound with unassuming drums and guitars (provided mainly by Alex Scally), centered around the keyboards and breathless whimsy of Victoria Legrand.
Nine years later, Beach House is on its third record for the famed Sub Pop label. The late August 2015 release of Depression Cherry warranted a support tour, and the sold-out crowd at the Royal Oak Music Theater was treated to a night of strong vibrations even as summer’s bittersweet twilight began to descend.
Jessica Pratt opened the proceedings with a sparse set of wistful folk. A bit too low-energy to launch the night, coupled with a long audio Ambien set break, the crowd started getting restless as the ten o’clock hour approached.
Beach House finally took the stage a little past 10, opening with “Levitation” off Depression Cherry:
The bulk of the set was spurred on by the Depression Cherry session, a slow-burn creeper of an album that lacks the immediate punch of 2012’s Bloom, but could ultimately be the group’s crowning achievement thus far.
Chris Coady—a soundscaper for albums by TV On The Radio, Grizzly Bear and others—co-produced Depression Cherry, BH’s fifth studio album.
Having withstood a good two-plus hours of build-up, the crowd immediately cut loose as Beach House got their set humming. “Space Song” is a clear focus track off Depression Cherry and the crowd reacted accordingly.
Beach House’s big, lush sound (aided on the night by the incredible acoustics of the ROMT) allows for equal parts contemplation and visceral head-nod. Minimal drums alongside Scally’s razor-sharp guitar work and ear-candy synthetics create an aesthetic that appeals to a variety tastes.
Legrand was playful and gracious throughout—the crowd appreciated the interplay and hung on her every word, openly swaying and rocking to the music. Guttural cries of “Fuck, yeah!” and “I love you!” could be heard periodically throughout the evening.
Things wound along to a crescendo with the show-stopping “Myth” off the Bloom album:
“Beyond Love,” “PPP” and “Wildflower” from Depression Cherry served as crowd favorites as did “Lazuli” and “Other People” off Bloom. “Walk In The Park” off 2010’s Teen Dream also came off well.
Missing were two of BH’s signature songs: “Silver Soul,” sampled by Kendrick Lamar on “Money Trees” and “Master Of None” sampled by The Weeknd on “The Party & The Afterparty.”
You can’t always get what you want, but Beach House provided pretty much everything the crowd needed, finishing the night with a two-song encore.
The setlist, informed by online requests (fans could request up to three songs), is available here.