Live Review: Beach House, Smoke Bellow

11 February 2016 | 2:17 pm | Xavier Fennell

"She holds her guitar aloft and asks the crowd 'if they're fuckin' hot yet?' assuring us that if we 'pass out together, it'll be really sexy'."

More Beach House More Beach House

It's a classic Wednesday night in Melbourne with yet another music venue hosting a sold out show mid-week. Openers Smoke Bellow have a friend up on stage with them, blending spoken word with droning pop keyboards. A scratchy guitar breaks through, a somewhat Australian influence on the once Baltimore natives. Each song burns slowly, building from steady rhythmic grounding into dreamy, floating vocals and spiralling melodies, before a small flute is produced by multi-instrumentalist Meredith McHugh. She twitters and warbles through the instrument before quickly stowing it again. Songs carry on rolling over and over themselves before a sudden change in pace lets the band break in a drum battering, chanting and twanging number. They enjoy bringing on guests, introducing their strings section as a cellist and violinist step out on stage for the band's final song: a self-pronounced Beach House preparation that meanders and floats before drawing to a close.

Placed in front of three pillars of silver material, Baltimore duo Beach House are backed by two more musicians, Skyler Skjelset on bass and Graham Hill on drums, for a live realisation of the band. The opening track from their first 2015 release fills the room; Levitation is like a lullaby, twinkling melodies and pulses of light are synced with heavy key hits. The track builds, quaking and pulsating, washing out and over the crowd who are immersed in the music. The full band give extra oomph to each song, while managing to maintain the allure that makes Beach House so enticing to hear. The recurring hooks of Alex Scally and the angelically smoky voice of Victoria Legrand are always pleasing.

Twinkling lights suddenly illuminate behind the band. There is a childlike wonder about them, innocent at heart but maturely aware of the world around them. The set follows much of the same recipe, delving mostly into the group's newest efforts with tracks from Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars. 10 Mile Stereo offers something more upbeat, featuring a pretty ripping bass line from Legrand. She holds her guitar aloft and asks the crowd if they're "fuckin' hot yet?" assuring us that if we "pass out together, it'll be really sexy".

The second half of the set features a lot more rock'n'roll-style performance, with Scally and Legrand moving sporadically with each track. Myth is a crowd favourite and the group build the track into a cacophony complete with strobe lights and layers of noise. They close their main set with the off-kilter, out of key Sparks.  Then comes the somewhat tired encore ritual where the band step off stage for a few moments before assuming their positions back on stage once again. Beach House launch into Irene — another favourite dream-drenched lullaby lifted from their 2012 album, Bloom — for their encore.