Review and photos – Beach House at the Vogue Theatre, Vancouver, April 30 2016
– review by Taisuke Tanimura (coming soon), photos by Kirk Chantraine
Beach House Saturday night at the Vogue Theatre, on tour in support of their latest releases, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars.
The tone was set even before the band appeared, with a moody ambient piano piece playing for half an hour while the crowd waited expectantly. The group, including founding members Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, took to the stage with no fanfare, simply walking out and launching straight into a faithful rendition of Depression Cherry’s “Levitation”. Bathed in dim red lights, Legrand looked otherworldly in a black sequined hooded cape, her long hair obscuring her face. The first thing that struck me was just how amazing her voice really is. A lot of people compare her to Nico, but there is a fair amount of Hope Sandoval and Blonde Redhead‘s Kazu Makino in there as well. She has an impressive range, which she deployed to full effect on some of the crescendos.
For their live set up, the band expanded to a quartet, adding Skyler Skjelset (of Fleet Foxes) on bass/keyboards and Graham Hill on drums. Both added depth to the band’s sound, although everyone was content to stay out of the limelight, keeping the lighting dim and letting the music speak for itself.
This worked well with the band’s dreamy sound, serving to amplify details like Legrand’s hand-twirling and hair-tossing. Occasionally, the entire backdrop would light up with pinpoints of light, creating a gorgeous backdrop of stars that the band employed to great effect during classics like “Walk In The Park”. Both Legrand and guitarist Scally made repeated references to how much they love playing Vancouver, with Scally rattling off a list of venues he loves (including the Rickshaw Theatre and the Malkin Bowl).
Beach House’s music is meticulously crafted, with every element placed just so, and you got the sense that this same subtle attention to detail was carried over into their live set up too. However, at some points I found myself wishing for a little more dynamism. As a casual fan, I wasn’t familiar with all of their catalogue and would have liked to see a little more of a show.
On this tour, the band are playing parallel shows as a duo, creating installation-like performances in galleries and other spaces. The Vogue is a much larger venue than these more intimate settings, but their show felt like being part of something private and special.