Beach House @ Maths Lawns at RCC Fringe, Adelaide 6/3/2019

As part of the RCC Fringe eclectic music program this chilly night in Adelaide sees Melbourne band Fourteen Nights At Sea commence proceedings at the University of Adelaide’s Maths Lawns with their postrock sound that sits comfortable somewhere between the shoegaze of Slowdive and the instrumental brutalism of Mogwai. Although they are quite competent in what they do, with the commonplace wringinging of as much feedback out of their instruments as they are able in the limited support time they have been allotted, unfortunately I am unable to heap praise upon them. I am sure that there were many of the gradually growing audience anticipating the main event who did enjoy their set, I have just seen it all too many times before, sorry.

There was a longer wait than expected (forty minutes when the stage was set up in half that time) before finally Beach House made their appearance. Starting with Levitation from their Depression Cherry album of 2015, their set consisted of mostly songs from this album and their most recent, 7, but did include songs from the Bloom and Teen Dream albums.

For most of the set, Alex Scally on guitars and singer Victoria Legrand on keyboards remain mostly anonymous, obscured by smoke machine dust and an effective lighting show that included strobing and back projections, while live drummer James Barone was the most visually present of the trio. A couple of songs in guitarist Alex Scally comments that “It’s good to be here on a chilly evening”, but it is a few more songs of Victoria whipping her hair around in a stylised version of head banging before we hear her speaking, “Let’s get cosy and forget about the classrooms… and the neon”, as the introduction to the hymn drone of Silver Soul.

There is a deliberate sadness and melancholy to the beautiful Drunk In LA and it becomes apparent that the music performed transcends the three piece live instrumentation.  Following the popular almost cheesy popcorn backing track for Space Song, Victoria slyly comments, “Yeah… I see some dancing. I see some romancing”.  The set appears to have progressed towards a more groove based feel and become a little more danceable especially with 10 Mile Stereo and Woo moving into a more pop-drone sound. Alex takes his moment to display some guitar dynamics, heralding the opening of Dive on which Victoria also plays guitar and the drumbeat sounds remotely familiar as though it is Nine Inch Nails doing a cover of Kate Bush’s Running Up that Hill. Their last song is Lemon Glow and after a brief moment offstage they return to encore with Myth completing their 16 song set before finishing sooner than expected and without a second encore.

Although the uncomfortable cold was obviously not conducive to an outdoor show, Beach House were well received by a larger audience than I had expected. They are certainly a band to see live as the experience brings a whole other world to their music that it is not apparent from listening to their recordings.

Adelaide Fringe review by Jason Leigh

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