BEACH HOUSE W/ SMOKE BELLOW @ 170 RUSSELL FEBRUARY 1111 February 2016
My boss once told me to turn the music off at work when Beach House’s Depression Cherry was playing because it reminded him too much of a funeral.
We in the crowd resemble an earnest high-school dance, two disco balls spinning from the ceiling. Ten metres away Beach House are performing ‘Elegy to the Void’. Victoria Legrand’s guitar is not loud enough at first so she points to the sound person to turn it up. As the song plays, I’m not sure what is happening. Serious case of closed-eye, an ecstatic dizziness. Clutching onto my friend because I nearly fall over into a heap. There is no immediate recovery to this song. Depleted. The moment stakes an early claim to the most intense sensation of 2016.
I’m considering enacting an embargo on myself: to not go to any more live shows during my final days as a teenager, cementing this Beach House gig as the defining finale. My heart is racing and I feel sick. This is an exhibition in isolation. I’m surrounded by people but my aloneness is acute. And in this instance, that sentiment is beautiful, not bleak.
My favourite colour is black. I’m wearing a black T-shirt, black pants, black socks and black sneakers. There is a slice of white on the sneakers and my belt is brown, but in the darkness you can’t tell.
The only things I know about Baltimore are John Waters, The Wire, and Beach House. Maybe that’s not unusual, though certainly reductive. The support act tonight is Smoke Bellow, originally from Melbourne and now back, having spent a few years in Beach House’s home city; finding solace in the large warehouses left over from an industrial past. They have a krautrock groove, managing to freak out most subtly. They’re wearing coloured jump suits and a truly Australian laid-back attitude. There’s spoken word from a friend of the band along the lines of, “every few kilometres I’m reminded that this decision was worthwhile.” The great road trip is not dead. On the streets later in the night, I carry their record between former-ramen-sticky fingers.
I find myself stuck in the libido of fandom, past the entry-level but not at diehard status. Every few songs I don’t recognise the tune and it doesn’t rock my body in the same way. I get bouts of involuntary shivers; primarily on the songs I do know, for an hour and half. It drains yr energy, yet expands yr capacity to show love to those around you. I try my best. Do you feel my love?
Pls don’t spill any food on yr black T-shirt, darling. I know it’s black, but the brownness of chocolate will show up if you aren’t careful. And then in the back of yr mind, there will be that self-consciousness that you get when you spill food on yrself. Have a nice evening, darling.
I’m reaching the sublime. The sublime floats in my head during Beach House’s opening song, ‘Levitation’. I could name the whole set list and check off similar passages of blissful aural freedom: The bittersweet guitar refrain from Alex Scally on ‘PPP’, simply hearing ‘Master of None’ after re-discovering it through the show that shares its name. It’s a practise I’ll continue every few months or years, with the people that I know who are here tonight.
Bring on the new personal decade, with a new T-shirt from the merch stand. No visual stains; a deep, musical imprint on my brain.
Beach House are appearing tonight at 170 Russell Street for a second show. There are limited tickets left for sale at the door.
Doors open at 7:30pm