Washed Out at Crescent Ballroom, 10/15/11

Ade Kassim
Ernest Greene of Washed Out

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Exactly how much interaction that needs to occur between an artist and audience at a live show? "Chillwave" is generally associated with the idea of bedroom-created, computer pop, with the expectation being that the musician will basically perform straight from a laptop.

Unfortunately this alienates the fans who crave some sort of emotional connection during a show -- this obviously isn't possible when the performer is trapped behind a movement-depriving set-up.

This wasn't the scene at Crescent Ballroom Saturday night; instead it was the polar opposite. There was movement, dancing, and an overall feeling of euphoria throughout the super packed venue. It wasn't without the usual stage banter, the "clap your hands" gesture, and the enthusiasm that Washed Out brainiac Ernest Greene brought to the stage on Saturday night.

Ernest Greene stalked on onto the scene two years ago -- at the helm of what was (and still is) a blossoming "chill-wave/synthpop" movement, comparable to the likes of Teen Daze & Toro y Moi. Numerous accolades, performances, as well as a heavily touted EP "Life of Leisure" followed. But his live show has never matched the intensity of his music, his stage gear consisting of a mixer and a laptop, and little more.

With Within and Without, his Sub Pop debut, Greene has decided to take things in a completely different direction, employing a live backing band.

There are skeptics, and for good reason. Ernest relies heavily on sampling, layering and complex sequencing, that could prove difficult to recreate live, and he doesn't attempt to do so. Instead, the music is morphed into a heavier, more energetic re-imagination of itself.

Their set was far from the boring monotony that seems to be a common plague for most musicians of this musical focus. The meshed synths, and sparse vocals effectively mirrored the layered textures of the album. The songs seemed fuller, and took on a life of their own, and the crowd was eager to accept it.

Perhaps, one of the major song highlights of the night was their translation of "Belong", which Ernest described as the closest they've come to making a reggae song. There was also the beautiful Chris Isaak cover, "Wicked Game" and the crowd was treated to a brand new song "'80s", which could have easily fit into the Within and Without tracklist.

It was a night of uncontrollable, infectious dancing. It was a stark contrast to his performance a year ago at the now defunct, Black Forest Mill, when he opened for YACHT - for one thing, he's built up one heck of a loyal fanbase, as well as a strong catalog that doesn't disappoint. 


Hold Out
You and I
80s (New Song)
New Theory
You'll See It
Wicked Game (Chris Isaak Cover)
Eyes Be Closed 

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Washed Out and EMA at Crescent Ballroom

The Crowd: "Chill-wave" aficionados and enthusiastic hipsters 

Personal Bias: I've always been such a fan of mellowed out music, and Saturday night reaffirmed my love for Washed Out.

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