If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been waiting for this moment for quite some time. This past Tuesday, Ernest Greene finally made his return to Columbia.
Greene and his band mates, better known as Washed Out, had the privilege of playing the very first show at the Soda City’s new, mid-sized music venue, The Music Farm. The task may seem daunting, but it is safe to say the group was up for the challenge.
Walking into the venue, I first saw the large Music Farm sign on the back wall. The small lights on each letter glimmered, seeming to assure the crowd that the night would be a good one – and indeed it was.
Opening with “It All Feels Right,” a hit off the 2013 album Paracosm, Washed Out set a noticeable vibe almost immediately. Somehow the band has this unique ability to completely soothe the crowd into a sleeplike sway, while maintaining a high energy level. Some songs induced dance and others were more relaxed, but the audience remained attentive through the show’s entirety.
Greene’s connection with the crowd is natural. He’s relatable, particularly for Columbia residents since he attended USC. But after all of his experiences playing shows and festivals across the world, he’s learned to interact with the crowd like a true pro.
Inevitably, the terms Washed Out and chillwave are intertwined. That’s what happens when you help to pioneer a genre, I guess. Greene originally worked with his good friend Chaz Bundick of Toro Y Moi to make some of the first definably chillwave tunes. There’s no denying that many of these elements are still present in the group’s music, but the show had less of an electronic feel than I would have expected after having listened to Washed Out’s music for several years.
Although Greene used to perform alone, he’s now joined by a band – Cameron Gardner on drums, Dylan Lee on guitar and Chris Gardner on bass, as well as Greene’s wife Blair on keyboards.
I looked over at my friend at one point during the show and said, “Seriously, all of his songs use the word feel.” OK, it’s definitely an exaggeration on my part, but the idea is surprisingly true. All of Washed Out’s songs are highly emotional, and Greene does a great job of transmitting his feelings directly into the hearts of listeners.
Perhaps the best example of the heart behind the band can be seen through the entire show itself. It was put on for the group’s friend and opening act Those Lavender Whales frontman Aaron Graves, who suffers from an inoperable tumor. All of the shows proceeds went to Graves, and Those Lavender Whales played a pretty killer set sandwiched in between opener Keath Mead and the main act.
Throughout the show, subtle shades of light blues, greens and purples radiated through the crowd generously and really added to the peaceful ambience of the room. Washed Out played a variety of songs, including crowd pleasers like “Feel It All Around,” (yes, that’s the Portlandia theme song), and “Amor Fati,” as well as a cover of indie band Small Black’s “Despicable Dogs.”
Columbia’s had a serious need for a mid-sized venue like this, and the blissful beats of Washed Out made for the perfect opening show at the Music Farm. The crowd was friendly, and it was evident that most of the people were there to simply enjoy the music. Let’s be thankful that catching a show is now as easy as driving to the Vista.
It All Feels Right
All I Know
Feel It All Around
Despicable Dogs (Small Black Cover)
Eyes Be Closed
Those Lavender Whales
When You Think About Space And Realize How Big It Is And It Gives You a That StrangeFeeling
Sleeping Is So Easy
Growth In Question
How To Cool Everything
My Hand Hurts
Settle for Less
All photos by Alexis Schwallier