Live, Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, sounds entirely different than his recordings. The singer, songwriter, and producer known mostly as a solo, bedroom performer–is much more in person. This past Tuesday night, fans attending the band’s sold-out performance at The Fillmore got an ear of this other Washed Out.
Paracosm, the title of his sophomore album, literally refers to a fantasy world. From the record’s start with its slowly building dynamics, to its fading close–Greene invites listeners to escape and drift away. At home, regardless of your stereo, the muted levels bring out a softer (though still grooving) equally psychedelic and shoegaze sound that has placed the artist at the forefront of the recent chillwave scene.
In a video interview with Yourstruly, Greene explained that he began writing the album in the fall, later finishing it in the winter, working in front of a window that overlooked the changing seasons in Atlanta, GA. Most of Greene’s lyrics repeat calls to let go and moments of falling. And what seemingly–written–should be dreary is intentionally brightened with major key progressions and buzzing bass kicks that turn gloom into glamor.
At The Fillmore Green was playing from a different vantage point. Staring out upon a sold-out Fillmore crowd, backed by his band, his voice was even more subdued under the hazy reverb and echoing effects of the microphone. The bass thumps grooved more like a house party than a stoned soundtrack apt for a quiet night. On “Get Up,” the guitar led like an 80s glam rock song, substituting for the recorded version’s choppy sample. This was not chill–this was fun. And forgetting it was Tuesday, the lively crowd imbided in the bubbly tones, and washing synths.
And if there was any concern that Greene would be put off by the positive reception, dancing to the music’s high notes and overlooking the somber lyrics, he certainly didn’t project it. At one point, Green said to the crowd “I know it’s early, but let’s have some fun.”