Shortly before 7 P.M. on La Brea Avenue, an abundance of gaudy hipsters queued as far as the eye could see. Earnest Greene, AKA, Washed Out, performed an exclusive show at Sonos Studio, a small and cozy, yet quaint and dainty art studio in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. The Sonos Studio website says the venue is “an acoustically designed gallery designed for music listening.” Although some might disparage the minimal attempt of sound proofing the space itself and a lack of a behemoth sound system, the music was surprisingly and clearly audible from any point in the room. The room itself was like any typically art gallery: a big square room, with white walls and lots of room for exhibits.
The exhibit at the time of the show was particularly interesting. It featured tubes of fluorescent light, dangling from the ceiling. Imagine a giant chandelier forming a fortress of solitude above the stage and around the band. The lights would react to the music: portions of the fluorescent lights would turn on or off contingent upon the music what sound frequencies those lights were reacting to, or what the music in general sounded like.
The show began with KCSN DJ and KCRW veteran Nic Harcourt, who introduced Greene and asked him about his musical upbringings, the mainstream success that came with his song being featured in the opening credits of Portlandia, and new directions in Washed Out’s music.
Greene stated that the new album would have the same atmospheric dreaminess as his previous releases, but described it as “optimistic” or “daytime-sounding record… bright colors, [and] being outside on an amazing sunny day.” Another aspect of the album, Greene explained, was it’s ability to provide an escape through the music. The album, after all, is called Paracosm.
The interview was charming, and Greene presented himself nothing short of a humble and egoless musician. Afterwards, the band gathered and performed an “acoustic” (no drummer) set within the dangling, fluorescent chandelier. They performed five new songs off of their new album. The songs sounded less like chillwave hipster anthems and more like music influenced by R&B artists such as Marvin Gaye.
Two of the songs Washed Out performed included, “It Feels Alright” and “Don’t Give Up,” both of which have already dropped. The band threw shakers and tambourines into the crowd to only add to the light heartedness of the experience, or perhaps to compensate for the lack of any other acoustic percussion.
Overall, the concert was worth checking out alone for the interesting environment and traversing through the diverse crowd for free cocktails. Although I wouldn’t put it past the audience for feeling a bit skimped having only gotten to hear five new songs and none of the classic chillwave anthems off of Within and Without or Life of Leisure, albums that fueled the summers of 2010 and 2011.
Washed Out’s sophomore album, Paracosm, drops August 13th.