Photo credit: Luis Ruiz
As heavy rain pelted pedestrians on the streets of Manhattan Sunday night, there was a sense of irony upon entering Highline Ballroom to see Washed Out (@ernestgreene). The vibe inside, though, was much warmer, as the densely-packed crowd awaited the rising star of the chillwave scene.
Ernest Greene, who performs under the moniker Washed Out, has been garnering national acclaim for his strong debut LP Within And Without, released on Sub Pop. His backstory is also quite endearing, as he recluded to his parents’ house upon failing to secure employment as a librarian, recorded music in his bedroom and posted it online. Two genre-defining EP’s and one BNM’d album later, he had earned the sold out show.
I was relieved to see Greene take the stage accompanied by a band. His songs are so lush and full, they demand the proper live instrumentation. Three synthesizers were evenly spaced across the front of the stage, with a drummer providing the backbeat. Greene hovered over a keyboard/sampler set-up on stage right, his wife, Blair, manned the center console, and the bass player stood to the left, also contributing keyboard textures on occasion. Greene crouched down to fiddle with the presets on his iPad, and with that, the audience began bobbing heads in unison to the wave of sounds that washed over them. He opened with “Echoes”, as vertical light towers throughout the stage flashed and pulsated in unison.
As the set continued, audience participation varied from sedated head nods to full-fledged dance party mode. Early highlights included “Get Up”, and “New Theory”, which consisted of a spirited sing along from the fans. Blair took the lead for the pleasant “You And I”, but the highlight for me was “Feel It All Around”, the popular track from his Life Of Leisure EP featured on the intro to IFC’s Portlandia. All the while, Greene’s humble, gregarious attitude only added to the set’s appeal, which ended with the single “Amor Fati” to massive cheers.
When they came out for their encore, they played fan favorites “Hold Out” and “Eyes Be Closed”. As the enjoyable set came to its conclusion, the audience reveled in one last bit of warmth before braving the elements outside.