With one glance outside, it looked a lot like Washed Out would be washing in, but as the evening rolled around, the weather pulled a classic “never-ending summer of 2013” and cleared up in time for the concert, which realistically, wouldn’t have made much of a difference anyway.
The show was at Fortune Sound Club, an intimate indoor venue tucked away in East Vancouver, which mean that the visibility of the night sky was pretty irrelevant. However, it turns out that it was precisely the intimacy of the club that night that ended up giving us little hope of seeing much more than the ceiling of the venue itself.
It was crowded.
To say the turnout was a success would be like saying Pulp Fiction was a decent movie. It was as though Washed Out had sold every single one of their tickets (they had), and then invited a hundred of their closest friends whose girlfriends had then invited another fifty of their friends… Each.
We were jam-packed like sardines in a vacuum bag, for some it became immediately evident that Washed Out has quite the amount of impossibly tall fans sporting intense limb spans.
That being said, it took me about half the show to catch enough glimpses of the stage to figure out that the soothing cacophony of sound washing over me was partially being played on acoustic instruments. The bassist had, at some point, unbeknownst to me, pulled out a massive stand-up bass and was grooving along with upbeat riffs that vibrated the room, while Ernest Greene himself had whipped out an acoustic guitar and was accompanying his echoed vocals with the air of somebody who had gotten completely lost in the excellence of the moment. Quite frankly, we all were.
The undeniably enveloping music of Washed Out is hearty and passionate enough that even when played through dollar store speakers it’ll get even the most stone-faced business man bobbing his head. Needless to say, hearing them live in a room full of ecstatic fans… it quickly became lanky limbs and elbows everywhere as we all tried to groove along harmoniously in an ocean of happy people.
They started out the night by playing almost all of the singles from Greene’s second EP Life of Leisure, one of which being the hit single Feel It All Around (also featured as the opening theme of the sketch comedy television series Portlandia). As the night went on, fans began to filter out as they were overwhelmed by the crowd, their emotions, or a combination of those two plus a catalyst of some sort, but the ones that stuck behind were rewarded by not only the sudden ability to breath, but a stellar encore that got everybody amped up on the sheer feeling of being alive and fortunate enough to have caught a Washed Out concert.
Eventually, the night had to come to an end, and the band left the stage to thunderous applause despite the room being suddenly half empty. As the majority of the remaining crowd poured out into the streets of Vancouver to seize life and then drown it in pints, the band poked their heads out and humbly began taking down their own equipment and homemade stage set.
To look at the members of the band (which for this tour also included Ernest Greene’s wife, Blair Greene) it’s hard to believe that these kids next door are capable of pumping out the music that has been classed as such a huge part of the chillwave movement, but if you listen to any of the Washed Out albums, you get a pretty good idea of what it’s all about.
Greene’s music is built of layers upon layers of electronically influenced tones that, when played all together, create great rolling waves of harmonious sound; with a little bit of pulsing and a whole lot of vocal harmonies, these tones practically scream out or gently remind you of good times on the beach.
It makes the kind of music that makes you wish you were sitting in the back of a cruising convertible with all of your best friends. It’s the sort of music that makes you want to let your hair down, forget to wash it for a month, and then chop it all off because you couldn’t care less. It’s good-time music to share with good friends, and if for some ridiculous reason you don’t enjoy either of those things, I am still convinced that if you see Washed Out live, you’ll love every second of it anyway.