Concert Review: Washed Out
Last night, CD102.5 and Promowest presented Washed Out at the Newport Music Hall, flooding the sounds of the venue with tropical, chill-wave vibrations. Everything felt, tasted and sounded floral.
Washed Out’s most recent album, Paracosm, was released by Sub Pop Records in June 2013. Frontman, Ernest Greene, produced, wrote and composed the entire forty-one minute album, the record featuring bass, guitar, keyboard, percussion and synthesizer; accompanied with Ernest’s angelic vocals and the band’s subtle harmonies. After touring on Greene’s 2011 record, Within or Without, his attempts in producing a more mature, earthly and instrumentally diverse album were succeeded. The newly released album was named after a 70s term, “Paracosm,” (the word fittingly means, ‘an alternative, detailed imagination’) uses over fifty instruments and goes as far as sampling natural bird sounds recorded in his backyard. The complex composition and increased instrumentals communicate a milky chill-wave sound that is unique against the rest of his discography.
Greene began the set with “Entrance” melting into “It All Feels Right,” the first tracks on Paracosm, a lively and tasteful introduction into the show. The crowd erupted into applause as the bird-chirps and synthesizers greeted them. Greene’s hypnotic voice glazed over the pronounced percussion and the washy synthesizer, subtle pop-nodes peeking from the melodies. The six members were merely silhouettes enveloped in a cloud of fog, creating a surreal, mystical atmosphere that created a personal paradise for each and every one of the spectators. Greene’s involvement was hardly limited behind his keyboard. His wide-legged stance and spirited dancing converted the energy into sound, exaggerating each asset that contributed to the tracks. Three songs into the set, “New Theory,” released off their second EP, Life of Leisure, was re-interpreted and revamped, modified with additional hip-hop influences and delightfully bouncy beats. The simplistic chill-wave melodies were amplified with unanticipated guitar riffs and echo-y vocals. Closing the set with “Amor Fati,” off Within and Without, was the trigger that set the crowd free. The heavy, rooted synthesizer managed to feel weightless and dream-like, which caused the crowd to burst into a collaborative dance celebration.
Washed Out’s Paracosm tour is undoubtedly a full-body experience, truly proving Greene’s genuine approach to the album. Greene’s ambitious drive with the record thrusted Washed Out into new heights. Such diverse instrumentation has the potential to lose character during a live performance, yet, Greene’s control of the sound was effortless, enhancing the atmospheric undertones and ethereal textures in the set. Despite the music’s heavily electronic body, Greene’s interpretations of the natural world were depicted realistically, and left a floral taste in your mouth. The show wasn’t exclusively audible, it transcended sound and sent a rippling down your spine, inviting you to create your personal “Paracosm.”
Photo by Mike Rist.