For a decade and a half, Beach House has been blending 1990s shoegaze with 1960s West Coast pop, surf music, and reflective lyrics. The Baltimore-based duo has released eight albums since 2006, including B-Sides And Rarities in 2017 and 7 in 2018. The band has appeared on the Conan O’Brien show and has garnered much praise in the media.
Thursday night, Beach House brought a mellow, contemplative vibe to Riverside Theater—something sorely needed given the nation’s recent societal and political strife. Beach House was happy to be back in Brew City, and said so several times.
“We love Milwaukee. I think about it when I’m not here,” said vocalist/keyboardist Victoria Legrand. “I think about the lake, and how beautiful it is. It’s important to have nice thoughts.”
Clad in black, Legrand, along with guitarist Alex Scally and touring drummer James Barone, kept the large crowd swaying to the music with gentle ballads like “Take Care,” the nostalgic “Walk In The Park,” and the atmospheric “Space Song.” Beach House performed several tracks from 7, including the bittersweet “Drunk In LA,” the quietly evocative “Pay No Mind,” “Black Car,” and the energetic “Dive.” Legrand’s throaty voice sounded ethereal through different effects pedals, while Scally’s lush, reverb-heavy arpeggios and Barone’s crashing symbols helped create a hypnotic wall of sound.
The stage effects—dense fog; colored lights; and mesmerizing visuals including 3-D hallways, cartoon-like eyes, and a screen filled with silver stars—were spectacular. During much of the show, the stage lights weren’t focused on the band members, giving them a shadowy and enigmatic quality.
Beach House accomplished a rare feat with Thursday’s performance. The band got the audience to look up from their cell phones, an indication that the crowd was truly transfixed. “We’re having so much fun with you guys tonight,” Scally addressed the crowd, 99 percent of which was standing. “We are lucky, lucky people.”
The show’s opener and fellow Baltimore musician, synth/electro artist hellp, gave the audience a jolt with a versatile set of songs from 2018’s impovertYy domestic. He played the poppy “Intro (Why Does It All Catch Up),” the assaultive “Trash Economics” (complete with grating vocals), and the uneasy “I Don’t Want To Live Here Anymore.” On his last night of the tour (Beach House will continue touring through this month), hellp was at ease on stage, laughing and joking with the crowd.
He also expressed gratitude towards Beach House for bringing him on tour. “They’re the best band ever. I’m really gonna miss them,” he said.