Children often favor a stuffed animal or blankie as a source of comfort, but as an adult, security is found in much less predictable places. Maybe it's your favorite cup of tea, your lover's dirty t-shirt, a night-time drive or an album that never fails to help you regain balance. For me, it's Beach House -- playing tonight at Bimbo's 365 -- and for the band's members, their comfort comes by a collection of keys.
Not the kind that open doors or link to a chain, Beach House's keys are the kind you press and pound, caress and strike; the kind you learn to love with an unwavering appreciation for the sound they produce. The Baltimore duo, comprised of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, own over a dozen different dusty keyboards and organs, each with a unique, grandiose quality that moans and speaks with a slow, Southern drawl.
"They're not very expensive, vintage organs," Legrand says from her sunny Baltimore home. "They're ones we've inherited or found in junk shops." Some are broken, while others ring pure; all random, unplanned finds, thanks to a keen eye and a bit of good luck. "You can't really expect to find them-- they kind of find you. Like this keyboard I found in Brighton that I really didn't expect. I guess it's a kind of luck. Like finding someone to hook up with that ends of being really good."
Legrand and Scally have always had an affliction for the rows of black and white and both took piano lessons when they were kids. "I've been playing since I was seven. Keyboard is definitely my instrument-- something I was always drawn to and that's something Alex and I share."
Beach House was born in 2004, their brand of delicately woven dream-pop/indie rock soothing and cooing fans with their self-titled debut [Carpark, 2006], followed byDevotion [Carpark, 2008] and their latest, Teen Dream [Sup Pop, 2010]. New songs like, "Norway" and "Zebra" are fantastically whimsical. Legrand's deep vocals consoling as they are creepy, soaring over her band mate's naked guitar strums; the light, hissing percussion gently pushing and pulling the album's tide.
The organs and synth sounds give way to a more balanced, full sound on Teen Dream, but their importance is never denied.
"Monetarily, our keyboard collection may have not be of much value, but each set may have just one or two sounds that are so inspiring for us, so we'll buy it or hold onto it," she says. "We don't just write esthetically- it's not just about the sound. It's about song crafting. A very, from-the-inside-out process. Not just pieces that are cut and pasted together. It's something more real than that."
Big, bulky, electronic and strange, their collection of music making machines take up a lot of space and time, meaning not everyone gets to travel along during the tour. This time around, Beach House has packed up four organs, and while they may not have pet names, Legrand says they have their quirks.
"They each have their little problems, just like humans do. Some are extra finicky, some you have to bang on. Some won't turn off."
And she definitely has her favorites.
"My primary keyboard- the white Yamaha," she recalls with a soft voice. "I can't believe I still use it-- not in a bad way. It's just that I bought it for $50 seven years ago. It's really been so loyal. Its value to me is in millions. It's crazy how much an object means so much in your life and how much of Beach House is tied into that keyboard."
While tonight's show is sold out, it's quite possible to get a dreamy Beach House experience right in your own room. Just close your eyes, press play on Teen Dreamand let your fingers do the dancing on an imaginary white Yamaha of your own.
Wed/14, 7pm, $18
Bimbo's 365 Club
1025 Columbus, SF