Beach House & Wild Nothing
July 20 2012
Newport Music Hall: Columbus, OH
It's not often that an opening act greatly outshines the headliner in a live show, but such was the case at Newport Music Hall friday night. I must admit, though, that the opening act, Wild Nothing, was the whole reason I even took the two hour trip with my friends to Columbus in the first place. This was, in fact, my first live show and therefore I wouldn't settle for anything less than seeing my favorite dream-pop band in action.
The venue, located around Ohio State's campus, is actually a converted movie theater, which becomes obvious once you see the marquee in front displaying the week's lineup of acts. Although we arrived a little over an hour early, a few small groups of rabid music fans had already solidified in front of the building. The crowd was an eclectic mess of hipsters dressed in thrift-store wear, social outcasts and middle aged shoegazers. The show hadn't started yet, but I was already in heaven. These were my people.
When the doors were opened, I made my way to the Wild Nothing merchandise table to bolster my meager record collection (which as of now contains nothing but a single Thieves Like Us LP). The Wild Nothing/Beach Fossils 7" split I had my eye on was sold out, so I settled for a "Cloudbusting" single and an off-white t-shirt with the the album cover of the band's upcoming album, Nocturne, on it.
There are two places from which the audience can view the show. While much of the crowd chose to stand on the crowded dance floor, we opted to watch from the balcony. The balcony's floor seemed to suction it self to one's shoes and the ceiling fans above us were wobbly and deadly looking; adding to the Music Hall's charm. After an hour of waiting, Wild Nothing took the stage.
The 5-piece band, fronted by Jack Tatum, kicked off the show with my favorite song of theirs, "Our Composition Book". The track seemed more layered than it did on the album and the synths were much more prevalent. This and the other songs off their 2010 debut record, Gemini, felt less like the lush dreamy soundscapes of The Cure, and more like the blistering twing guitar attacks served up by Pale Saints or even early Chapterhouse.
Many tracks from the upcoming LP, Nocturne, were also featured, the highlights being "The Blue Dress" and "Only Heather". The former was a synth driven song culminating in a maraca solo by Tatum. The latter was a syrupy sweet, 80s inspired love song that just may be one of the band's finest. The set closed with fan-favorite "Gemini", which brought a few of the mainly stagnant audience to life. Overall, I was very impressed with their performance, and hope to see them again.
When Beach House arrived on the scene we decided to move to the dancefloor to get a better view. Just as we got downstairs, the building became flooded with Beach House fans. I really didn't know what to expect from the three member dream-pop act, as I had only heard "10 Mile Stereo" and a few songs from their latest LP, Bloom. I was actually a bit underwhelmed with their half of the show for a few reasons.
For one, their songs were supplemented by a blinding light show. I really wanted to see the band in action, but the flashing lights distracted from both the performers and their music. Not everyone really wants to be dizzyed by flashing stars and random psychedelia when they're trying to enjoy music.
Also, the volume screwed up the sound a bit. Victoria Legrand's vocals and keyboard, as marvelous as they were, drowned out the drums and guitar. This really took away from many of the tracks, except for "Wild", which was made all the more haunting. Even with these problems taken into consideration, Beach House still put on a decent show. My favorite songs of the night were "Myth", "Wild" and "Other People".
In the end, this was a really good show and one of the better experiences in my 14-year old life. I'd recommend seeing either of the bands live for any fan of reverb drenched shoegaze or lo-fi pop.