Dark Beach (photo: Niki Pretti Photography)
It’s a dark time for all lovers of Oakland’s Dark Beach. After five years of crafting gloomy-yet-fun tunes while exploring their mutual love of mermaids and mythical creatures, the duo of Melissa Dale and Faith Gardner have announced they’re playing their final show as Dark Beach this Friday.
Dark Beach as a musical collaboration was born in 2011, after Dale, who was drumming for Sweet Nothing, and Gardner, a guitarist in Hooray for Everything, struck up a kinship on seeing each other at local shows and wanting to start up something new. Gardner says they bonded over ’90s riot grrrl music and mermaids, and from there, the band was born. Their most recent release was the Ouija EP this year, which delves into themes of dark myths and the heroine figures that become prominent symbols of the genre. From Greek goddess Persephone’s lamenting of Hades in “Persephone” to accounts of being stalked by a female “Banshee,” Dark Beach weaves mythic stories with noisy, lo-fi swagger. As we inch (or really, gallop headlong it seems) into October, it couldn’t be a more perfect listen.
What feels so unique and real about Dark Beach is that they have an influence and angle to their music that they unabashedly believe in. When we chatted with them back in February, they gushed about specific bits and pieces of pop culture that inspired everything they do in Dark Beach. “I love female characters who are sympathetic monsters or outsiders,” Gardner puts forth as she names The Little Mermaid to “Rappaccini’s Daughter” and even Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, while Dale was into seances, tarot cards, and playing Bloody Mary. From a music video featuring clips from The Beach Girls and the Monster to bringing to life a “Girl in the Bog,” they fully celebrate literally and figuratively larger-than-life figures.
Though there’s plenty of mythical escapism present in their music, they also try to bring it back to the roots of reality. Each song takes a character that’s often historically maligned and tells the “story from her point of view while using them as metaphors for real-life issues women face.” For this magical balance of fun and levity, noisy musical cushions and sharp-shooting melodies, moody creatures and a charming point of view, Dark Beach are a band that will most assuredly be missed in the East Bay scene.