I first heard Beach House when I lived in a converted funeral home—in our bedroom where the recently deceased were once viewed and grieved—choosing a random band from Derek’s endless collection. My environment may’ve influenced my initial attraction, but their sound continues to haunt me, and so it felt a bit surreal to finally see my favorite band last Monday night at the Ogden.
Frontwoman Victoria Legrand stood hooded in a glittery green parka, silhouetted the entire first song, drawing attention solely to the sound—rarely lit, the four musicians black against the glowing and pulsing backgrounds. Legrand didn’t flaunt her body (like say, another of the powerful vocalists from my list, Sarah Barthel of Phantogram—who rocks it but it’s not what I identify with). Legrand got cheers just for exposing her hair, and she never went farther than that—though granted, it’s a magnificent trademark. She rarely spoke between songs, but when she did she encouraged kindness and convinced us we were beautiful.
Beach House’s sound is reminiscent of music from decades past. They’re complex but slow and intentional. They’re experimental, yet consistent. Most of all they are Victoria Legrand’s Voice. A voice husky, pure and powerful. A voice I’ve spent hours attempting to emulate.
I was around eight years old when I started dreaming of stardom. I loved big voices. Whitney. Mariah. Celine. LeAnn Rimes, Jewel, Christina Aguilera, Cleopatra, Jessica Simpson. My taste may’ve been questionable, but through these women I learned emotions I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. I imagined my life playing out like scenes from their albums, riding rollercoasters with my boyfriend and meeting eyes with Leonardo DiCaprio while he sketched me, not knowing he was about to die.
My adult relationship with music is hardly different, although I like to think my taste is at least more interesting. Some bands—but especially Beach House—have become muses for my writing. The opening to their song “Real Love” is my go-to for getting in the zone for my typically murky fiction (“I met you somewhere, in a hell beneath the stairs. There’s someone in that room, who frightens you when they go boom…”). I listened to their album Devotion so much while writing one story that I titled the story in homage to the album’s influence. (Other influential songs for my creative process: “Myth” and “Troublemaker.”)
Beach House also holds significance for providing the perfect words for emotions I haven’t always known how to address. It’s like reading Anaïs Nin and believing that she is me and I was her and therefore reincarnation must be real. The songs “Better Times” and “The Traveller” especially have had this effect. My identification with Beach House is so entwined with my internal life, that at their concert I felt I was in a room full of voyeurs. I couldn’t be me. I couldn’t transform into the version of me who shuts out the world and absorbs their music like a necessary nutrient. I wished I were alone with the band. Entirely surrounded by sound.
Apart from the voyeuristic crowd, I was disappointed that the band played only one of my dozen favorite songs. Maybe a few more favorites would’ve been all it took for me to cross over and get lost in the music.
I did however enjoy seeing Legrand feel the music in similar ways as me when I’m alone with her voice at home, half-bent, hands on head, hair swaying. Mellow, mellow. My scene is a scene of comfort, a place where no one cares or judges, and somewhere along the line I’ve started to feel like I’m getting too old for concerts (which feels like a betrayal to my younger, concert-obsessed self). I get more excited now simply knowing a band I love is coming to my town and I have the option to see them. After four years in Denver, this still feels like a luxury.
Beach House put on a memorable and atmospheric show, and I’m glad I went, but in the future I’ll be content experiencing their music in my car and through my headphones, belting their lyrics while clutching at my chest in resonate emotion that I’m sure to find solace in for many years to come.