The Bomb Factory, Dallas
Saturday, April 9, 2016
On Saturday night at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum, Baltimore dream-pop outfit Beach House was all about prettiness. Each song was pretty. Victoria Legrand's vocals were pretty. But there were too many aspects that fell pretty flat.
It wasn't a surprise that, aside from a couple of songs, the show was made up of tunes that could've been one long, single track. The Beach House catalog is nothing if not dependable and a bit predictable. But predictability isn't a bad thing when album after album is of such pristine quality. Legrand and Alex Scully are masters of a specific craft and deserve applause for that fact. But in a live setting, let alone a cavernous room filled with thousands of people, sticking to a monotonous, sleepy status quo isn't engrossing; it's bland.
At times, the energy from the stage rose just above a dull hum. In the early stages, "Wishes" and "All Your Yeahs" helped the set carry what was initially a spooky, ethereal vibe thanks to a lack of lighting in the club that was accented by hazy streams of soft color lighting rising behind the band. But after a few songs, the lack of any inventive visual presentation dampened the delicate groove many of the songs should've emanated.
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The Bomb Factory is the large club venue that Dallas has needed for years and has an immense capability to host massive acts with arena-sized productions while making the night feel intimately special. Given that Beach House has been adding so-called "installation shows" which feature innovative and collaborative performances of their songs in unusual venues, this one should have been more engaging. Instead, the lack of visual imagination was only compounded by the presentation of the songs themselves, which steadfastly refused to deviate from their recorded versions. They may sound great on record, but live they failed to translate.
The sound was crisp and Legrand's sweet but haunting vocals were on point. A couple of brief moments when the drummer's beats pumped a bit of blood into the tunes were certainly welcome. When a soaring, screaming guitar entered the intro for "Sparks" near the end of the night, the crowd roared with it. However, it was hard not to feel the cheers were more out of relief than out of appreciation.