More Than Just a GenreJuly 12th, 2011
Washed Out – The Bowery Ballroom – July 11, 2011
Ernest Greene of Washed Out had already defeated more than the odds when he took the stage at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom on Monday night. As a part of the chillwave explosion of 2009, Greene immediately made a name for himself with an excellent EP and at least one transcendent remix of Small Black’s “Despicable Dogs.” However, pursuant to any excellence in a narrow vein, the question was never was Washed Out good? It was would Washed Out last? In this way Greene was the greatest deflector: a Sub Pop deal and an excellent LP in stores, proof that genre labeling was as curly and foppish as his haircut. Washed Out, a project that came to define, if not necessarily completely encapsulate a genre, had become more than that.
Greene played a mixture of old and new material, perhaps resisting the urge to play all the songs of his recent and critically acclaimed debut LP, Within and Without. Its sexual cover art aside, fans were treated to the album’s best track, “Amor Fati,” late in the set, the kind of slow build that both reflected and didn’t entirely embrace the found-art projections retreating behind the band and up into the rafters. This took place between the antihistamine version of older single “Feel It All Around” and the encore, “Eyes Be Closed.” It was the kind of thing that could easily be taking place in a Ridgewood, N.J., factory loft, but instead, Greene clapped his audience into rhythm, played his delicate creations against an arty backdrop and, perhaps, reflected on how talented you need to be to transcend a passing fad. And, with that, he retreated backstage. —Geoff Nelson