Beach House

support Dustin Wong
author MIN date 13/11/15 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

It’s Friday the thirteenth, and instead of staying at home to watch a scary movie, more than 1500 guests have decided to come watch one of the most popular bands within the current scene of alternative pop at a sold-out Store Vega. Since the release of their third album, “Teen Dream”, from 2010, their popularity has only increased exponentially with every passing year, and they seem unable to stop; in 2015 alone, they have released two new well-received albums, “Depression Cherry” and “Thank Your Lucky Stars”, leaving one to think if they’ll even play any material from before this decade. They’ve been known for playing well-executed and mostly very intimate shows, so even though they could probably sell out a venue bigger than this, it's nice to see them in a theatre-size venue such as Vega.

Dustin Wong

At precisely 20:00, a short and seemingly shy Dustin Wong enters the stage with nothing but his guitar. On the stage are a set of pedals and a chair. He humbly tells the constantly increasing crowd that he’s very happy to be here, places himself on the chair, and starts to play. He plays a tricky riff, he loops it. He plays another one, loops that one as well. By the third or fourth layer of guitar, he plays live on top of all the loops. Surely, this would be fine if he’d constantly play the trickier parts live, instead of taking the easy way out and just play them once or twice and then let the machine take over. It definitely shows a lack of consistency in his showmanship. Most of the time, it’s just plain boring to look at him play, especially when he just stares at his feet and only gets off his chair for a few seconds two or three times. The light never changes, nor does his expression except for a few smiles now and then. The sound, however, is crystal clear, and this definitely helps his performance – that is, until he starts singing, which just comes off as muffled and drowned in sound. Ultimately, it would have been much more exciting if he’d play some more advanced guitar for a longer duration than it takes to loop it – Then, at least, you’d be looking at his finger work instead of just scratching the back of your head. You can’t honestly be surprised when you hear people talk more and more throughout the set.

Wong makes some interesting soundscapes by using his set of pedals, and he honestly does have some alright and very melodic passages. But at one point, the effects make the guitar sound like dubstep while he’s making some sort of primal scream on top of it. I don’t know if this is supposed to be climatic, but it just comes off as silly. Well, at least he did something that differed from the rest of his set. The crowd, however, seems to like it, and he gets his fair share of applause.

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Beach House

When the time is close to 21:00, you can feel the excitement in the room. People are talking about the band, their popularity, previous concerts, and as the light goes out a few minutes later, there’s a huge roar from the entire crowd. Many that haven’t seen the band before are happy to get the chance in this relatively intimate setting, and from the first note being hit, you feel that everyone’s made up their mind to have a pretty good time. The band is off to a great start, setting things off with “Levitation” from the first of their two new albums, “Depression Cherry”. It is followed by a string of four of their strongest songs, and both “PPP” and “Silver Soul” are definitely early highlights of tonight’s set. The hypnotizing guitar played by Alex Scully pulls you in, and the warm red light that the scene is drenched in helps make the songs a fuller experience. As for Victoria Legrand, her vocals are spot on. They’re very loud and easy to hear, and if she’d been singing conventionally, it would have been too loud and would eventually become aggravating. But since she insists on having a “less is more”-approach, vocal-wise, her delicate singing is spot on in the mix. It’s a pleasure to hear her lure you into Beach House’s universe.

Five songs in, and some their best material has already been aired. Unfortunately, this is easy to tell, as the next few songs start to feel more like a walk in the park than anything special. But the band is still doing great, the lights are phenomenal and the sound is still excellent. That is until the set reaches one of the newer songs, “Space Song”, which usually has an easily recognizable keyboard-lead. For two-thirds of the song, that lead is almost impossible to hear in the mix, and it’s being drowned out by every other instrument on stage. Luckily, the sound guy must’ve picked up on this, and the last part of the song is heard as it’s meant to.

A few songs later, we’re treated with the sudden appearance of shoegaze-effects and a fire-starting guitar, as “Sparks” lights up the crowd after a few undanceable songs and a feeling of the band playing it a little too safe – Legrand has told a joke or two about baseball (“which most probably wouldn’t understand, because we don’t have baseball in Denmark”), but besides that there has been very little crowd interaction – and shortly after, they play the popular single “Myth” off their album “Bloom” from 2012. They pull off both songs really great, but unfortunately, the crowd has already begun talking a lot more during the concert than previously. However, when Legrand says that the next song, “Somewhere Tonight”, will now be played live for the first time, people start to focus a little more. It’s seems like a great choice to leave the stage after this song, as people are now longing for more.

The encore consists of three more songs (one of them, “Astronaut”, actually dates back to 2008, so there was at least one song from the previous decade), but in comparison to what they could’ve played, these are mildly uninteresting. A lot of their songs heavily rely on contrasts in dynamics, but these elements are sadly missing during these final songs. Thus, Beach House never really manages to take the concert to the next level. Many people in the crowd are just waiting for that one song that most can sing along to (“Take Care”), but it never shows up. The band played almost 100 minutes’ worth of excellent music, but they also left the crowd wanting something besides the ordinary show-routine.

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