- Published on Tuesday, 18 October 2011 06:00
words by Stephanie Emilienburg
It's always interesting to see how so-called bedroom artists will flesh out their sound in a live setting, their walls expanding or perhaps even disappearing entirely and with a number of spectators in lieu of a bored cat. This story goes that headliner Washed Out, aka Ernest Greene, gained critical attention after uploading songs he recorded, yes, in his bedroom to Myspace. The positive feedback kept streaming with an EP on Mexican Summer and now a full length on Sub Pop. It turned out that, backed by a very capable band, Greene would have blown the roof off the performance space had there been one.
The evening, boasting immaculate weather, started with local quartet Feathers who complimented their moody, drum-driven songs with thoughtfully-coordinated flowey outfits that ranged from all black to all white. It surprised me when the lead singer of the fashionable group announced, "This is our first show, so thank you for the warm welcome." Their confidence and arresting stage presence gave no indication that was the case, and the large audience that had already gathered applauded in encouragement. The only thing I would have liked to have seen improved upon was the vocal responsibilities being dispersed a little more judiciously. I had a difficult time hearing the vocal accompaniment from anyone else beyond the lead singer.
Another thing I would have liked from Feathers is if they had gone on a little longer, rather than main opener Sleep Over. It's not that they were at all bad, it's just that they weren't very memorable or interesting. The crowd seemed engaged, but the only thing that was keeping my attention was the rad dress the lead singer and keyboardist wore that had fantastically-huge sleeves smothered in flowers. Her voice is very pretty and has a ghostly effect, which I liked, but the trio failed to stand out from their hazy, lo-fi contemporaries and left me wanting a bit more.
Washed Out and his trio of accompanying musicians took to the stage amidst ebullient applause, and you could almost see all the butts in the room start to shimmy a little in anticipation. Running a bit further with the stylistic notations of the night, props to the band member rocking the rainbow feathered headdress throughout the set because it was beyond awesome. All four musicians provided vocals, and the effect was rapturous and created a joyously full sound that helped get the crowd in the beyond-packed venue moving.
"You and I" was the first song that visibly super charged the crowd to the energy level I witnessed the rest of the evening, which was a bit surprising seeing as it's one of the slower songs from Within and Without. The 2009 hit "Feel It All Around", "Soft", and "New Theory" were in high demand as well. For the latter, Greene asked the audience to sing along, and although I didn't really see any of that happening, there was a lot of synchronized clapping. Overall, the evening was a regular jamboree and, thanks largely in part to Greene and Company, an incredibly fun musical experience. Fresh off a tour with Cut Copy and on his way home back to Atlanta, Washed Out is going places we have yet to imagine.