Stepping into the Fox Theatre in Oakland on Friday night was like entering Beach House’s dreamland. Band members, Victoria Legrand (vocals/keys) and Alex Scally (guitar), accompanied by Daniel Franz (drums), played to a sold out audience a fantastical performance that no one will soon forget. The stage was adorned by four large windmills behind tall rectangular boxes with horizontal openings. When the band walked on stage the lights shined through the boxes and the Fox Theatre turned into a bedroom. The momentary brightness that peaked through the windmills’ very slow revolutions were like headlights of a car passing by disrupting the stillness of the bedroom. As Beach House told the bedtime story, the young crowd became enchanted.
Victoria Legrand was the evening’s story teller, both benevolent and seductive, her Farrah Fawcett-like flowing locks shined like “Glinda the Good Witch” of The Wizard of Oz. The band opened with “Wild,” Legrand’s euphoric vocals were soothing but all the while frightening. It’s difficult to categorize her voice as human–neither man nor woman–and sounds like a cross between a goddess, an angel and a wizard.
With Legrand’s vocal taking front center, it was Alex Scally’s supernatural guitar that moved the story along. For much of the show he bounced on a stool hunched over his guitar, focused and animated. Scally held a demeanor that proved his determination to deliver an epic show. The sound he produced was surreal and on point. As Scally strummed on his guitar, Legrand caressed the keyboard with her right hand while her left hand wove back and forth like a witch holding a wand, casting a spell on the crowd.
Six songs into the night Legrand graciously admitted, “We love this city!” Every time the band performs in the Bay Area, Legrand explained, it is something truly magical. This time around, Beach House brought “a special gift just for San Francisco:” Daniel Franz stepped offstage and a single spotlight shined on Legrand, while the duo performed for the first time in four year “Auburn and Ivory” from their 2006 self titled debut album. Legrand brought chills with a deep, haunting voice that built off entrancing keyboard melodies and Scally’s ghoulish guitar progressions. Suddenly, the night’s dream came to a climax. Shouts from the top of the balcony echoed through the venue, while whispers could be heard from the crowd on the floor, “this is amazing.”
The visuals continue to add to the dream like atmosphere. A backdrop of twinkling starlights and mystical video clips displayed on two screens that levitated above the band. During “Used to Be,” a video of a female figure skater donning a short sequined dress played in slow motion, summoning a sense of nostalgia and numbness. The mysterious song, “The Hours,” featured a clip of a driver’s seat view during a night ride on a lone highway that haunted the crowd as Legrand sung the lyrics “frightened eyes looking back at me….”
By the time the night came to an end, Beach House had performed their newest album, Bloom (2012) in its entirety and worked in several songs each from Teen Dream (2010) and Devotion (2008). Aside from “Auburn and Ivory” and “Master of None,” Beach House didn’t venture into their oldest material. This was fitting given the young age of the audience, although it was a nice surprise when they did carefully weave it in. The fantasy show came to a magnificent conclusion with Legrand vigorously headbanging and pounding the keys to “Irene” as the crowd swayed in transfixed approval.
6. Heart of Chambers
7. Used to Be
8. Other People
10. Auburn and Ivory
11. Silver Soul
12. Master of None
13. The Hours
14. On the Sea
15. New Year
18. 10 Mile Stereo
19. Turtle Island/Nothing