Photos by LP
On a rainy Monday afternoon, it may have been a nice idea to snuggle up to Washed Out’s ambient, basement recorded sound while listening to the pattering rainfall outside your door. But an even better idea would’ve been to get cozy and comfortable with the brimming crowd at the Culture Room to witness those sounds shimmer and shake the venue, all under the spell of Washed Out’s man behind the iPad, Ernest Greene.
But before he could take his place on stage, two opening bands warmed up the crowd from the cold splattering rain just outside. Dog Bite,-a band hailed from Atlanta, GA- played a fuzzy five song set that would appeal to fans of Beach Fossils or Lower Dens, and even had one girl asking for the name of their opening song. Next up was Airbirds, a DJ/bassist and drummer duo, who played a set that could’ve easily been a day time show at the Live Stage of Ultra Music Fest. The crowd swayed along appropriately, but only really showed their appreciation after a song was over, rather than during. I prayed that the same wouldn’t occur for Washed Out.
And alas! Evidently the concert gods were present that night, for the moment Ernest stepped onto stage with his backing band, the crowd erupted in cheers and praise. Slouching over his synth with his head bowed forward, he stroked the keys, the lights came up-it began. The already crowded venue was instantly permeated by fluttering base thumping sound, fluctuating in and out of each and every crevice and vacant space, filling it with an almost tangible ambiance. The tracks, though when played through speakers in your cluttered bedroom could sound (no pun intended) washed out and without shape or definition, took on a whole new semblance in a live environment.
The songs had an inevitable sense of movement, you could almost see them float around and above you, dropping low with every strum of the over reverberating bass. Smoke rose from the crowd as well as from the stage, and created a foggy haze that allowed the hypnotic synths to take over, making us sway and dance (in the limited space) to every rise and fall of the instrument. The most audience reaction was when they played favorites like the aerodynamic “Feel It Around”, “Amor Fati” which allowed the audience to improvise words to the already unintelligible lyrics, and the swayable “Eyes be Closed”, which took on a new weight and essence when played live.
One thing that makes Ernest Greene and his band put on a great show, is not only being able to produce the sounds that made us fall in love with him in the first place, its the energy and presence in which he goes into a show. Even when opening for Cut Copy last year to a crowd anxious for their headliner, he still went into it with the same optimism and good vibes. Though not saying too much throughout the show, it was evident he was having a good time- which in turn reflects on the audience and allows THEM to let loose and do the same. Peering at the elated crowd through his bangs while swinging over his synth and iPad, his smile was contagious. It’s always refreshing to see a band who is still not corrupted by their success, and as we all packed in tight to the stuffy venue wiping the sweat from our brows, it was clear that his fan base grew since his last tour down here.
“For a Monday night, you were fucking incredible!” he said to the crowd after the two song encore, and the audience of predominantly male button upped indie 20-something year olds and one joint smoking 23 year old rabbi, rushed out of heat and into the damp street, saying things like “So much bass, needed more treble. Still great though”, and “ You could…almost see the magic between his fingers and the keys..”