Bodega
August 29 | Reviewed by Brannavan Gnanalingam

Beach House are like a summer sun-shower, their music a weird kind of euphoric melancholy. The Baltimore duo (plus one) kicked off their brief New Zealand visit with a show to a Bodega crowd who swam away with their visual music. It was a very good gig, given that the support was by two of New Zealand most under-appreciated talents. The show featured three artists for whom back-beats and driving rhythms were, for the most part, unnecessary. Instead their music floated up to the ceiling, for the audience to try and snatch down as it drifted past.

The night was opened by the recently returned from overseas Nik Brinkman of Over the Atlantic fame. He managed to arrest the reasonably sized crowd with his captivating solo performance. Over the Atlantic’s live shows play on textures and layers, so it was interesting to see the music stripped back. But it brought Brinkman’s voice/lyrics/melodies to the fore, things which are often buried in the mix. Brinkman’s touring has clearly pulled out a confident performer, and his set was an excellent opener.

The [insert superlative] Bachelorette was up next. I hadn’t managed to see her perform live before, but given my intimate rendezvous with her studio work, I was as excited about seeing her as I was about Beach House. The Christchurch-based musician was far more dynamic live than expected – and louder too. A triumvirate of computer screens, fluoro sine waves and her trademark voice were attention-grabbing enough, but her brilliant music clearly highlights her as one of New Zealand best contemporary musicians. The general consensus in the audience seemed to be of adoring approval.

Beach House got up on stage and performed without much fuss. It wasn’t too dissimilar from their studio work (and the band mainly focused on material from their very good 2008 album Devotion). But the guitar lines were ticklier live and Victoria Legrand’s voice was even more soaring. The open spaces of their studio work were replaced with a warmer feel. The duo brought along a drummer for the show, but I’m not entirely sure if they’d quite figured out how to incorporate him in properly. No matter, the music managed to transfix the audience, even if it didn’t get them moving. Audience interactions were limited, and I wonder if the audience’s spaced reaction to the breaks gave the wrong impression on the band. It was more, muted approval. It was an unconventional night of live music, the often mellow moods of the performers the perfect way to drift out of winter.