BEACH HOUSE Concert Review (Fillmore in San Francisco, 12/17/15)

By Jason Reed

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing some of the members of The Ocean Blue at the Echoplex in Los Angeles (see interview here) in which the topic of our mutual appreciation for Beach House was openly shared. Fast forward a month and there I was in attendance at the the band’s sold out, first night performance at the Fillmore in San Francisco, thanks to the good people at Sub Pop!

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(photo by Jason Reed)

I had to make a quick b-line to the band’s merch booth, where I was able to nearly complete my personal vinyl discography of the band by purchasing (what I was told) were the last “Loser edition” colored pressings of “Depression Cherry” and “Thank Your Lucky Stars”, at the affordable price of $25 each. Nice!

Standing there on the spacious floor of the venue gave me a unique perspective into the band’s fans. As the packed crowd rolled in, I quickly found myself surrounded by enthusiastic people (mostly 20-and 30-somethings) discussing, among other things, the band’s recent performance on Conan (click here) and speculatively conjecturing about the songs they hoped to hear that night. I overheard others talking about how epic 2015 was, with the “one-two punch” of the May release of “Depression Cherry” along with October’s “Thank Your Lucky Stars.” One person then joked that maybe 2016 would see the release of three Beach House albums (since, presumably, the band were overachievers and would need to top their 2015 run, right?!).

Papercuts opened and played an energetic set. Jason Quever is a San Francisco native and the positive energy in the crowd reflected their love for one of their own. He has garnered critical praise and has played with a number of notable acts, including Camera Obscura, Deerhoof and Port O’Brien, amongst other.

And then the magic happened. The lights dimmed, four shadowy figures came on the stage and the crowd roared as the opening notes of “Levitation” echoed out to thousands of eager ears, like a first-time heroin user experiencing a high whose scope can never be matched by subsequent fixes. What commenced was an initial 14 song set book-ended by “Irene” (off of 2012’s “Bloom” album) in which the audience’s head bobbing and undulation synchronized perfectly with the overall auditory bliss. A few minutes later the audience was treated to an encore featuring one of Beach House’s most anthemic tracks, “Myth”, along with the beautiful “Elegy to the Void” from their latest release.

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(photos by Jason Reed)

During the show, Victoria and Alex both displayed gratitude and levity, thanking the audience for their graciousness and mentioning the band’s positive memories of playing other San Francisco haunts such as Slim’s, Great American Music Hall and others. For reasons I don’t recall, Victoria made mention of the word “vagina” a few times and pointed out an audience member with an iPhone, telling her not to record her and that she “wasn’t born yesterday…..I was born in 1981”. The respectful and non-offending contingency in the crowd laughed and cheered in admiration for Victoria’s candid proclamation.

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(photos by Jason Reed)

After the last note was played and the rapturous applause ended, I walked alongside other satisfied fans out to the street, excited to receive a customary and unique concert poster by artist (one of the many ongoing perks of going to this historic venue). I then had the chance to talk to other loyal fans that were awaiting the chance to possibly meet the band.

I chatted with one dedicated fan named Jorge B. from Pasadena, who humbly told me that he had travelled to San Francisco to see them for all three of their shows at the Fillmore. More impressive, Jorge also told me that during the prior week he had gone to all 4 of their sold-out LA shows at the Fonda Theater and had seen the band 15 times, including a show he flew out for in Canada. I was intrigued by Jorge’s dedication and felt compelled to ask him a few questions (I am an interviewer after all and, sadly, didn’t get the chance to interview the band so I had to get this itch scratched somehow). I asked Jorge what it was about Beach House that inspired him to spend significant time and money to follow the band on many of their performances. Jorge said:  “I was going through a tough time when I found Beach House. I didn’t feel like life had much meaning…I happened to stumble on the song Silver Soul and there was this strong connection. I couldn’t make out most of the lyrics my first listen but when Victoria started singing “it is happening again” everything just fit with how I felt and it started a healing process I guess. I started to live my life differently because I didn’t feel so alone anymore.” It was clear from Jorge’s expression just how much the band meant to him.

I asked Jorge what his two favorite Beach House albums were and he said that right now, he’s got Depression Cherry and Devotion on heavy rotation. I asked Jorge if there were any deep cuts or rarities that he wanted the band to perform more often and his top pick was “Turtle Island” which hasn’t been played during any of the 8 recent shows he had gone to. I also had the pleasure of talking to Jorge about a number of other similar interests, including Twin Peaks (one common thread between Beach House and Lynch being Victoria’s eerily “Julee Cruise-esque” evocative vocal stylings).

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(photo of Jorge B. by Jason Reed)
After waiting a while longer, the small crowd of approximately 15 fans were greeted by Alex and Victoria as they walked out of the venue. I briefly talked with them both and they graciously autographed a few items.  Alex was “all smiles” thanking everyone for attending and making note of a couple “technical kinks” that they worked out with one of the drum machines. The fans assured him that it was a great performance and that they didn’t notice any imperfections. Both Victoria and Alex recognized Jorge from prior shows and they called him out by name, happy to see him among the crowd.

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I strolled away from the show, talking with Jorge about his anticipatory plans to see the band the following two nights. Excitement and satisfaction were the lingering emotions of the evening. And that was a good thing.

 

Setlist:

  1. Levitation
  2. Walk in the Park
  3. PPP
  4. All Your Yeahs
  5. Silver Soul
  6. Space Song
  7. On the Sea
  8. Master of None
  9. 10 Mile Stereo
  10. One Thing
  11. Beyond Love
  12. Wishes
  13. Sparks
  14. Irene

Encore:

   15. Myth

   16. Elegy to the Void

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