A good friend of mine has been raving about Washed Out for a few months now. He keeps saying the word “chillwave” and referencing the ’80s. But as with the majority of the bands coming out of that corner of the scene (something about Beach front Real Estate where Cults gather or something?), it all muddles together in my brain as one big synth chord and I go back to listening to Pusha T or Kimbra.
But it was only a matter of time before he chipped away at my musical ego, and when a free ticket to their show at House of Vans fell in my lap I figured, why not?
When we arrived at the spacious renovated warehouse venue, Chairlift was already on stage and we were just in time to catch the hometown heroes’ 2008 smash hit “Bruises.” I was pleasantly surprised by frontwoman Caroline Polachek’s ability to shift gears seamlessly from angelic croon to frightening shriek, and then float back down, landing somewhere between the two with her intense, higher-register, near-yell. I’d never seen Chairlift live prior and was not disappointed; the band propped up their charismatic frontwoman perfectly without drawing attention away from the vocal-centered pop.
After some curious wandering through the courtyard where intoxicated audience members could rehydrate with free Vitamin Water, or soak up the open bar with food-truck cheesesteaks and tacos, we revisited the VIP area to re-up on vodka while we waited for Washed Out to finish soundcheck.
One song into the set and I was sold. Something clicked in me as I stood in the towering doorframe to HOV’s back exit, beneath a warm bank of gliding synth lines, and a light cloud of tetrahydrocannabinol that wafted up from the crowd. Quite literally Ernest Greene’s sonic depiction of the world washed out nasty stains of worry and stress that come as added value with work, night classes, and being perpetually short on rent. I felt like I was speeding across an endless, recently-waxed linoleum floor with banana peels for shoes. I could swear the harmonies were ten deep, and though the comforting effects on Ernest’s vocals obscured the words, they also morphed into another welcoming layer of his atmosphere.
I left the show feeling strangely calm; and I’ll definitely be revisiting HOV, as well as all local Washed Out stops. In case you didn’t now, House of Vans has a host of free concerts all Summer and all you need to do to attend is RSVP. Hope to see you at the next one.