If You Built Yourself a Myth…

24 07 2012

Beach House

Summer 2010 was the first time that I had the opportunity to see Baltimore dream-pop duo, Beach House, live. The show was in a small theater amidst a rather rundown Cleveland suburb. My early arrival at the venue guaranteed a front row spot right in front of where Victoria Legrand’s keyboard would be set up. The show was beautifully moody and enchanting. I would end up seeing them perform in Toronto and Buffalo a few weeks later.

That Cleveland show would be the start of an unofficial tradition for me, at least for the past few summers, where I would make a few mix CDs, gas up the car, and enjoy a roadtrip to a never-before-visited city to take in the sights and a show. Summer 2011 was Columbus to see The Kills. This past Saturday was Pittsburgh and Beach House once again.

After a day/afternoon of seeing some of the sights in the area, I arrived at the venue, Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale, with a few hours to kill. Millvale, a Pennsylvania borough bordering Pittsburgh, was once a hub for iron manufacturing, saw works, stone works, lumber mills, and breweries. That would explain why the area reminded me of a cross between Twin Peaks and one of the little hamlets from a Stephen King novel with its hilly terrain, plentiful greenery, ravines, and older architecture. It definitely felt like one of those quaint, rural areas seeped in history that we city folk drive through on our way to go camping.

Parking right outside the theatre gave me the added bonus of being able to listen to the band’s soundcheck while catching up on some reading. Since I already had the front row experience back in 2010, I wasn’t really in a rush to beat the crowd so it was a relaxing late afternoon with the printed page prior to the show.

One thing to be said about Mr. Smalls Theatre is that they really pack ’em in… almost to an offensively uncomfortable level. I think I felt less claustrophobic when I was front row at Terminal 5 for Crystal Castles than back near the sound booth for this Beach House show.

Jan Hammer’s “Crockett’s Theme” from Miami Vice was the band’s intro. Appropriate? Absolutely. The aural throwback segued perfectly into “Wild,” the second track from Beach House’s latest record, Bloom.

Setlist

The set was very Teen Dream and Bloom heavy which was understandable considering they are the two latest releases and undoubtedly the most critically acclaimed of their catalog. Victoria Legrand would remain bathed in heavy backlighting for most of the show, leaving her in a shadowy silhouette that, when coupled with her husky yet beautifully sultry voice, would leave one to wonder if Nico of The Velvet Underground had been reincarnated onstage.

I suppose the Nico reference is more than appropriate considering the early part of that afternoon was spent at the Andy Warhol Museum. He painted a banana for the cover of The Velvet Underground’s record. Perhaps, one of his famous flower paintings would have been his choice of cover for Beach House’s Bloom.

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