BEING THERE: Washed Out @ The Electric Factory


Some say chillwave is the new shoegaze. Others say shoegaze is the old chillwave.  I say who cares about nomenclature if the music feels right? Making good-feeling music has become a mission statement for Ernest Greene, the auteur behind Subpop’s resident chillwave/shoegazers Washed Out. Greene eschews complex rhythms and intricate vocal arrangements in favor of lush sonics and velveteen song structures that feel good when they rub up against your cochlea. In the studio Washed Out is a one man band, but last night at the Electric Factory Greene brought with him an entire backing band to help recreate the good vibrations of the recordings. They opened with “Entrance,” an oscillating, airy collage of warm textures, bird chirps, harp strums and softly-rung bells. Several songs later, Greene and company played “New Theory”, the synth-bass driven downbeat pop tune from his Life of Leisure EP. Greene’s willingness to undress a song to its bare essentials paid off and allowed his voice to cut through the clutter. As a frontman, he strikes just the right balance between ardent and apathetic.  During “All I Know,” Greene elongated each syllable to illustrate the lyrics’ theme of the difficulty of letting go. “Feel It All Around,” the song that introduced me to Washed Out, was the highlight of the evening. The band prefaced the song with an all-guitar rendition of the song’s sonic motifs — wherein Greene laid down some impressive guitar licks — before replicating the sound and the arrangements of the recording with uncanny fidelity. All told, Washed Out puts on an impressive show, and is a totally different beast from the records. It’s a little bit chillwave, a little bit shoegaze, but most importantly, it feels all right. — NOAH SILVESTRY