Beach House - The Parlure Spiegel Tent, Brighton
This year's Great Escape Festival is well underway, with a variety of cooler-than-thou bands and artistes taking over the music venues of this seaside town. While the likes of the Ting Tings, Lightspeed Champion, Santogold and various hyped acts are no doubt impressing elsewhere, I decided to check out Beach House on the opening night, an act whose first two albums have steadily become staples of my daily soundtrack and, let's face it, have a name that's suited to a place with two piers.
Before their headline slot just after 10pm, the Parlure Spiegel Tent - virtually hidden away from the hustle and bustle and constructed next to St Peter's Church - played host to two acts who, like Beach House, consist of one male and one female. The Burning Leaves do a fine line in stripped-back gothic folk, the luminous Indie Mae providing haunting vocals over Craig Lee-Williams's guitar. At this point, the crowd was relatively thin and practically all seated on the floor before the stage. Next act John & Jehn heated things up a little with their 'Ian Curtis meets Siouxie down a dark alley' rock 'n' roll, a dispute between John and their sound technician only adding to the dirty sexy attitude by abruptly cutting their set short.
Alas, the one boy/girl duo everyone had come to see provoked an almost unnatural quiet akin to a holy communion, quite apt considering the church right outside. Opener Apple Orchard was the first of many magnificent soundscapes relying on the contributions of either member: Alex Scally is in charge of the fluid slide guitar and laptop-aided drumbeats, while Victoria Legrand's detached yet soulful vocals float over her fuzzy organ riffs. Dressed in a full white ensemble, they were the complete opposite to the Kills' black-skinnies-only garage rock but equally as cool.
The atmospheric heart songs You Came To Me and D.A.R.L.I.N.G. wove around a set of singles that are already stone-cold classics in my opinion. There was no Saltwater unfortunately but the swooning Heart of Chambers more than made up for the omission, with Legrand sounding like a particularly lovelorn Cat Power unearthing a lost Motown classic and slowing it down to its dreamiest configuration. The appreciative smiles from more than one swaying couple in the audience said it all; when Legrand acknowledged a particularly young couple in the front row, calling them 'too sweet', you just know that Beach House will be 'their' band for however long they're accompanying each other to gigs.
And this is Beach House through and through. They write and perform songs that might not have catchy brainworm choruses containing the line 'That's not my name!' but do become songs to treasure which attach themselves to memories, bitter or sweet.