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CONCERT REVIEW

Beach House at Koolhaus Oct 13, 2012


The voice of lead singer/song-writer Victoria Legrand captivates and comforts many dedicated fans.  Unsurprisingly, her stage presence is just as hypnotic and speaks volumes of her talent that is unlike any other singer-songwriter I can think of.  I felt incredibly privileged to see Beach House perform live this past Saturday, since I have loved their sound for quite some time now and never thought I’d be able to witness them on tour. But as soon as I saw their name on the list of upcoming shows in Toronto, I had to get my tickets right away. Even though it seemed a little silly to buy them way back in June, my decision turned out to be a wise course of action since their show inevitably sold out amongst the numerous fans who can identify really good music within a mainstream culture saturated by Pop music, uninspired lyrics, all about visual aesthetics and lacking actual substance.

So being able to unite with a chill crowd who didn’t shove or push me despite being super excited was a new experience for me.  It was good enough just to sway back and forth and be swept away with warm feelings and genuine appreciation of beautiful music with soaring vocals and emotion.  As much as I love the track, A walk in the park, I was actually reluctant to sing along for once and ruin the beauty and simplicity of Legrand’s mournful refrain as she sings “More…you want more…you tell me…”

I can only imagine, that had I sung along loudly, the look of awe and rapture that seemed so common on so many faces would quickly change to frustration and hostility aimed in my direction.  So I refrained from the urge to belt out the lyrics (that are so easily identifiable with anyone who has ever been in a relationship) and spared my fellow Beach House fans from my atrocious vocals.

There tends to be a real sense of connection amongst the crowd, at so many shows but this one had a really special vibe.  The energy was content, introspective appreciative and mature even though it was an all ages show.  People just seemed to experience the same emotions at the same moments. Hearing Victoria sing “Real love finds you somewhere, get back to it” just seemed so incredibly brilliant and insightful.  I’ve never been into the deification of celebrities but she truly seemed ethereal, androgynous yet beautiful and fascinating on so many levels.  I felt like attending this show was a real gift.

Finally what struck me most about the show was the performance of the closing song.  Irene is a song off their latest album In Bloom, that I had somehow managed to overlook. So I was lost when they started playing and I couldn’t figure out which song this could possibly be.  The discovery of how lovely it was seemed like an incredible bonus added to the splendor of the night, and when Victoria did a perfectly synchronized execution of head banging and thrashing and twirling with that trademark mass of curls to the beat of the music, it was the PERFECT ending to a striking performance.  I really believe that everyone left the koolhaus thoroughly satisfied and convinced that Beach House is the real deal.

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The Naked and Famous


Anyone who decides to name their band, The Naked and Famous probably isn’t taking themselves too seriously and expecting to become famous unless they really are planning to strip down to their birthday suits and flash unsuspecting civilians.  But there was no need for the members of TNAF to succumb to porn or flashing to gain attention within the indie rock scene.

In case you didn’t know TNAF are a post-punk/synth-pop quintet from New Zealand, whose name was inspired by one of their musical influences Tricky.  Their name itself is attention grabbing enough and chosen because of a line in one of Tricky’s songs where he repeats that everyone just wants to get naked and famous.  Yet it’s their catchy, electric tunes that will make them a memorable fixture in your head. The band originally formed in Auckland’s MAINZ music college when Thom Powers met Alisa Xayalith, and from there everything just fell into place. In 2010, they delivered a strong debut studio album Passive Me Aggressive You that has received several nominations and awards.  Their music has been featured on television series like Gossip Girl and the Vampire Diaries, in video games and sampled by other artists.  Their huge commercial hit Young Blood was even sampled by the likes of Machine Gun Kelly which created some bad blood between the musicians about copyright infringement via numerous tweets from MGK and TNAF.  But the samples could never compare to the real thing, the album is worth listening to if you haven’t heard it yet. The energetic fast paced electric tunes accompanied by insightful lyrics has definitely become a favourite of mine.

So needless to say I was incredibly excited to see their name posted amongst new concert listings at Rotate This.  I snatched up my tickets fast before they sold out and waiting in agony for April 5 to arrive so I could witness the awesomeness of TNAF live.  I wasn’t disappointed. They opened up with All of this, one of the best tracks on the album and the crowd loved it.  Singing along, hands waving in rhythm to the beat, people pressed forward and got lost in the performance.  I was amazed by how many people knew the words and I watched transfixed as they sang my favourite part…

As the plans turn into compromise
the promises all turn to lies
the spite builds up
and it can’t get through
Passive me, Aggressive you

I know I nag, I moan I know
but with a plan like this
it’s way too slow
in the time it took to get this here
I could have made this work
but all I had was…
the hope that pieces would take shape
and we could watch them all fall into place…

a complicated sing-along to pull off but I guess when you have devoted fans like these, it can be done.  Alisa was flawless, conveying meaning through expressive hand gestures and sidling up to Thom.  Head bobbing to Punching in a Dream and swaying to The Sun I was in a perfect state of bliss.  Especially when Thom sang a heart wrenching delivery of Girls Like You. The whole set seemed to fly by much too fast although they played every song from the album. Impressive yet I was hoping that they’d interact with the audience more. But I guess they preferred to express themselves through their music and expressive hand gestures and melodic swaying.  The light show definitely helped increase the excitement and kept the crowd happy. I even heard they’d be autographing merchandise after the show but after the spectacle of their encore where they closed with Young Blood I was satisfied.  Nothing could have made it a better night.  I came, I saw, I left on cloud 9.