Mar 05, 2023
By Matthew Berlyant
Photography by Matthew Berlyant
When this writer first saw The Beths back in the fall of 2018, they came to New York’s 250-capacity Mercury Lounge, so it was quite jarring to see them again four and a half years later in a MUCH larger venue, the 1,800 capacity Brooklyn Steel, which was filled with more people than I’d ever seen it in all my years of going there. In fact, it was so full on the main floor, it was almost impossible to move, so I watched most of the show from the much more comfortable balcony (which thankfully doesn’t require VIP access for most of its area). It felt like we were watching The Beths transitioning from indie heroes to the next breakout stars, much like Wet Leg, who I saw perform at Brooklyn Steel to a packed crowd as well a year ago.
Playing a good chunk of their third album, 2022’s wonderfully-titled Expert in a Dying Field, and a decent amount of material from their previous albums (2018’s Future Me Hates Me and 2020’s Jump Rope Gazers), The Beths enraptured the crowd with an hour and a half long set that left punters exhausted and sweaty, but happy and full of joy all throughout with many singing along with every word that singer Elizabeth Stokes sang throughout the evening. Shy but noticeably polite, she comes to life on stage, sharing guitar duties as well with fellow guitarist Jonathan Pearce. What really makes them stand out for many other similar-sounding groups, however, is their use of four-part vocal harmonies on much of their material, giving the material a melodic but scrappy sheen.
Opening with the titular track from Future Me Hates Me, the band blazed through the main set with one upbeat track after another, their patented mix of early noughties indie rock meets pop-punk sound intact for much of that. One exception was “Little Death” (also from Future Me Hates Me), an almost five minutes slow crawl that starts off just with Beth and Jonathan’s quiet strumming and their voices blending into one before eventually exploding into a full-band romp. Another exception was the first encore, Jump Rope Gazers’ rarely played “You are a Beam of Light,” a quiet acoustic interlude. Most of the rest of the eighteen songs set, however, was fast, (mildly) furious, and like a delightful sugar rush that one somehow feels healthy afterwards from.
Another notable incident happened during the third song, “Out of Sight” (from Expert in a Dying Field), when an audience member had to be treated for medical attention (hopefully they are OK), so the show stopped for a few minutes. When it resumed, however, Stokes and the rest of The Beths didn’t miss a beat, restarting “Out of Sight” and blazing through the rest of the set afterwards. If you ever get a chance to see The Beths, do not miss them while they are still playing venues of this size.