By Alex HudsonClose to the end of Beach House's 90-minute set, when the band returned to the stage for an encore performance of "Myth," a fan standing behind me leaned over to his buddy and commented, "I thought they already played this."
He was wrong — they hadn't. But his friend hit the nail on the head when he responded, "They all sound the same."
Almost without exception, every song Beach House played relied on a near-identical combination of Alex Scally's spidery guitar arpeggios and Victoria Legrand's dramatically sonorous vocals and lush keyboards. The duo were joined on stage by auxiliary drummer Daniel Franz, whose beats were hard-hitting yet no so jarring as to detract from the dreamy atmosphere.
The songs sounded practically identical to their studio counterparts, right down to the programmed rhythms that introduced many of the tracks. The swirling stage lights and subtle projections complemented the mood while rarely drawing attention to themselves.
At times, it was hard to find fault — songs like "The Hours" and "10 Mile Stereo" were meticulously executed, as Legrand tossed her wild mane of hair and the crowd swayed appreciatively. The aforementioned "Myth" was a particular standout thanks to the infectious enthusiasm of two hulk-sized bros standing beside me, who raised their beers into the air hollered along with every word.
And yet, for all of its virtues, the set was conspicuously lacking in spontaneity and diversity, creating an effect that was soporific rather than invigorating. The band were working within their comfort zone and showed no interest in branching out; if they had, perhaps the show would have been great rather than simply good.