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Beach House, Dustin Wong: Rialto Theatre, Monday, Sept. 24

On record and live, Beach House is a band that establishes its comfort zone instantly, and for better or worse, never leaves it.

The band's softly swaying dream-pop —particularly on this year's Bloom and 2010's Teen Dream—is built with grandeur, depth and the airy voice of Victoria Legrand. Keyboardist Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally add a drummer on tour, but they're clearly the sole architects of the Beach House sound—a subtly impressionistic and soothing lull that never strays too far in any direction.

"Wild" started out the show with one of Scally's most ringingly melodic guitar lines, before giving way to a more prominent keyboard on "Walk in the Park."

Teen Dream's lead single, "Norway," still perhaps the best overall distillation of everything that's most compelling about Beach House, was a stunner live, with the nearly sold-out Rialto crowd held still and attentive.

Though the songs gain a bit of urgency live, Beach House's music is no less dreamy while on display, no less ethereal for being so tangible. What Beach House's stage performance reveals is how steady and non-fussed-over the songs truly are. It's solidly tethered music that sounds like it is floating.

"Myth" and "Irene" formed the encore, capping a nearly two-hour show with the two gorgeous songs that bookend Bloom. Yet the virtues of any individual song are hard to compare to the biggest treat of a Beach House show: simply hearing Legrand's soaring vocals fill up such a big, open room.

Opener Dustin Wong was the perfect appetizer for Beach House, with a mesmerizing style of layered guitar loops and effects. A virtuoso electric guitarist, Wong builds a dense ocean of sound; his occasional wordless vocals are put to the same use as his incredibly varied guitar sounds.

There's something very ghostly about how he stacks loop after loop together (a dozen or more for each song); as each new live part is created, the other parts seem to evaporate, ceasing to sound like a guitar at all. Best of all, his songs build in intensity as they progress, the added layers working in service of each other.

More by Eric Swedlund

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