Victoria Legrand can’t see the stars in Baltimore, she says. So, it seems, she and band mate Alex Scally just make their own.
Beach House filled ACL Live at the Moody Theater to the brim Monday for a night cast in silhouette. The band’s catalogue — including last year’s double treat of “Depression Cherry” and “Thank Your Lucky Stars” — is a travelogue of darkly dreaming indie pop, the gentle sounds of yesterday filtered through some of the subconscious’ weirder places. And this set, a wavy tug-of-war between shadows and glows, was no different.
From the opening number, “Levitation,” Beach House remained visibly placid even while conjuring musical unease. “There’s a place I want to take you,” Legrand sang, draped in what looked like the most sorcerous NFL jersey of all time. The “unknown that surrounds you” was the only place to go for an hour and a half of malt-shop-jukebox melodies, haunted house synth chimes and shoegaze guitars. Legrand curled her fingers often, and she shrouded herself further from the dark with a long tumbleweed of hair.
Every song sounded like a culmination. The most audible “ah!” in the audience: the first bloom of the starry night backdrop behind the band for “PPP,” a doo-wop fantasy straight out of “Blue Velvet.” As with every Beach House song, the beauty caught your ear until an echoing chill ran down your spine at that sense of something not quite right.
Legrand, floating vocally from powdery lullaby to searing cry, appropriately jolted the most for crowd-pleaser “Sparks” near the end of the evening. “And it goes dark again,” she sang, leaning fully over the keyboard, “just like a spark,” bending fully backward as if that last vowel was pulling her through a mystical portal from an old Steve Ditko issue of “Doctor Strange.” Then, she snapped back, bringing all that hair with her. And Scally’s squealing, distorted electric guitar was either a night terror or the flash of lightning that wakes you up.
“The thing I love most about Texas are the (expletive) skies,” Legrand said at one point in the evening, before she bemoaned of Charm City’s lack of celestial sights. “Thank you for living in Texas.”
There’s no point in trying to draw a better metaphor for the evening’s music. Shimmer, danger and wonder. You could find them in the Hill Country skies or in a crowded room on Second Street last night. Texas usually has it covered, but it was nice of Beach House to bring their own stars just in case.