Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
May 14, 2012
Better Than: Listening to chillwave in a blizzard
The air inside Fort Lauderdale's Culture Room was as dense and stagnant as it was outside following a spattering of pre-sunset rain. The throngs that turned out didn't give an inch. Following performances by wintry supporting act Dog Bite and DJ-meets-drummer duo Software came the main act, a Portlandia special.
Whatever preconceived notions those in attendance had of Washed Out's live show, expecting perhaps a fuller version of the intimacy and solitude of multi-instrumentalist Ernest Greene's recorded work, were quickly vaporized in a torrent of nose-tingling bass, live drums, and shimmering synthesizers that blasted his so-called chillwave music out of the upper atmosphere and back down to earth with a radiating, concussive rumble.
People would have danced if they could especially on tracks such as "Get Up" and "You'll See It" but with the crowd was packed to the trusses, and at times up against the wall movement was nearly impossible. Many simply stood there as sweat poured freely and the sound crested its banks.
Ernest Greene's vocals and keyboards often just barely pushed past the onslaught of bass, even on softer songs like "Far Away," and whether deliberate or the result of Culture Room's acoustics the lower frequencies were most prominent throughout the show. His performance, along with that of his three backing musicians, was passionate and clearly being fed by the arena-worthy response of the audience. Even still, Greene didn't bring much showman's swagger to the stage, calmly accepting the gratitude between songs as though the crowd was a fourth the size before pressing on.
Washed Out's most well known song "Feel It All Around" -- which in album form feels and sounds as though it were recorded in a rural bedroom studio (which it was) -- was pushed into uneasy substance with the backing of a full band, a rarefied current assuming windshear velocities, yet still enveloping the crowd with its inherent warmth.
A two song encore brought the set to a close, Ernest Greene remarking, "For a Monday night, you guys are fucking incredible!" Before leaving the crowd to file out into the humid night, hopefully less likely in the future to so readily accept invented labels such as "chillwave."
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