Thank you, Beach House
After several decades of unflagging, flaunting of our hometown claim to film saboteur John Waters, we of North Baltimore finally have another name to brag about that outsiders may actually recognize. No, I’m not talking about the Rendezvous Lounge, I’m referring of course to Hampden based rock duo, Beach House.
If you are not familiar with Beach House (loser), their music can best be described as “indie-dream-pop” with a bit of “shoe-gazing” thrown in, with maybe a little “chipmunk skinning” here and there. They started out in North Baltimore and have reached critical and commercial success on a national level.
Their music is weird enough for MICA students, pretty enough for my mom, and pop enough for low-art slobs like myself, who were incapable of pretending to like WHFS better after they switched from modern rock to tropical Latin.
Like Waters, Beach House has enough street-cred for us to feel okay with their leaving our city and sneaking in the back door of the mainstream. Unlike Waters, Beach House does not automatically bring to mind images of obese transvestites, dog feces or a pre-talk show Ricki Lake (at least not for me).
I had the opportunity, a little while back, to sit down and ask Beach House vocalist/organist Victoria LeGrand a few questions. Topics discussed in the interview included whether there was an extra charge for guacamole, the exact location of the restroom , and if the salsa was like “spicy-spicy” or just “kinda spicy.” Of course this was several years ago when she was waiting tables at Holy Frijoles, so I don’t really remember her responses.
Anyway, as someone who cares a lot about what others think of him, I am overjoyed to have such a well-respected band associated with my home turf. Before Beach House, it seemed our sad fate for Maryland to be forever known as the region that gave the world SR-71, Good Charlotte and power ballad compilation mainstay Kix, a band that feels not an ounce of embarrassment or shame in accusing Poison of ripping off their style. If this is true, Kix has some real explaining to do. I seriously hope Baltimore does not have to take responsibility for Poison too.
I’m not saying we don’t have any other generally recognizable musicians to brag about. Both Tori Amos and David Byrne are highly recommendable name-dropping material, though the kids may not recognize them (and it’s very important to look cool to teenagers).
Also, if you happen to find yourself cornered in an intellectual exchange concerning the state of extreme death metal, remember that renowned vocalist George “Corpse Grinder” Fisher of the outfit Cannibal Corpse once called the northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Hamilton home.
Trust me folks, name dropping Corpse Grinder will place you as the center of attention of any classy gathering.
Putting good Baltimore music back on the Billboard charts is not the only reason we owe Beach House a big, sloppy, wet iTunes purchase. Their success gives local artists/performers/waiters like me hope of moving up out of the dank basements, sweat-stained nightclubs and crummy neighborhoods of our great city. Despite what they may tell you, every unknown, starving artist dreams of becoming a well-known, starving artist, who can afford to eat but chooses not to, in order to maintain an ideal figure for publicity shots.
Thank you, Beach House.
None can gaze shoes better.