Beach House – Paradiso – 26.05.2010

I really wanted to enjoy this gig, and I thought I would enjoy it, but I didn’t. Oh well.

Beach House, from Baltimore, are described as playing “dream pop and indie rock”, but to me that just translated into an evening of long monotonous songs that didn’t really go anywhere or do anything. A little less dream and a little more pop would have been welcome. Musically and rhythmically each song was quite interesting for the first 30 seconds or so, but then they just lost me.

Sometimes they sounded a bit like Mercury Rev, or a less energetic Arcade Fire. They looked more like a synth pop group from the 80s and there was definitely a bit of that genre in the mix too. But ultimately I think their songs, in the live environment anyway, need a bit more craft to keep the attention. I have listened to some of their recordings and quite enjoyed them, although again I think my attention tends to wander mid-way through each song.

The support act, from Belgium were called Isbells. I also found some of their stuff to be a little dull, but as it was all acoustic it was a bit easier to float away the music. The lead singer has a great voice; I was reminded of both Bon Iver and Iron & Wine.

They did one song completely unplugged and off-mic, which is all well and good if you can hush the crowd down and project out to the whole room. Unfortunately they only managed the first part of this…there was respectful silence, but where I was sitting on the balcony I really couldn’t hear them well at all. I’ve seen a lot of acts do this and I think it only works either in very small rooms (upstairs at the Paradiso), or if the performer has a powerful voice (Josh Ritter, Glen Hansard…). I do like it when acts step away from the mic like this, but in this case I’d rather have heard the song properly. Still, I do recommend checking out Isbells.