Washed Out’s Warm Georgia Vibes

Ernest Greene and company rolled into the historic Georgia Theatre on a perfect late September night in Athens, GA for a tour-closing, sold out, hometown show and did not disappoint the packed room. The show brought this first leg of the tour behind the recently released Paracosm full circle as the group held their tour-opening practices at the venue. Greene also went to college at The University Of Georgia, grew up in Perry, GA and lives nearby with his wife who also happens to be a keyboardist in the band.

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NYC band Haerts opened the evening and absolutely turned heads with their fantastic performance. Having previously only heard their Jean-Philip Grobler (AKA St. Lucia) produced single “Wings”, I was intrigued but uninitiate with the band overall and was almost immediately enthralled by Nini Fabi and company’s showing. Fabi’s vocals and presence are absolutely captivating and the band behind her are equally so.

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The band was infectious, grabbing the attention of the packed house immediately and had the room abuzz at set break. Haerts’ debut Hemiplegia dropped October 8th (check it out below) and comes highly recommended, certainly an exciting band to watch. For tour dates and more head over to www.haertsmusic.com

Terms like “ethereal” and “organic” have been bandied about almost universally in reviews of Paracosm, and rightfully so. The record very notably features a lack of Greene’s signature synths, and instead relies on a myriad of different instruments, as well as a live rhythm section for its sound. Another notable feature of Paracosm is how satisfied, pleased and “good-timey” the whole thing feels, and with good reason. Greene has previously described the record as “daytime psychedelia” and the good vibes implied were certainly on display at the Georgia Theatre, as you could almost feel the last days of the waning summer in the music coming from the stage.

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Lead single “It Feels Alright” opened the show to a raucous response from the crowd and featured a stand up bass, something pretty unthinkable at previous Washed Out shows, and a testament to their new direction. The song set the vibe for the entire smile-filled evening with lyrics like, “Meet up with the old crowd/ Music’s playing so loud/ It all feels right.”, pretty much summing up the evening’s events as Washed Out’s warm, buzzing sound enveloped the audience in a groove-filled bubble for the next hour and change.

“Feel It All Around”, live at The Georgia Theatre:

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The rest of Washed Out’s set featured a very nice mix of new songs like “All I Know” and “Don’t Give Up” alongside Chillwave-defining songs like “Amor Fati”, “Eyes Be Closed” and of course “Feel It All Around”, and their fantastic version of Small Black’s “Despicable Dogs”, which appeared on the two group’s shared 2010 tour 7″. Greene and Co. proved very adept at keep things moving and the audience engaged in the overall vibe, with Ernest mentioning at least four times how much he digs the venue and how glad he was to be playing in front of his friends and family, several of whom were in attendance.

“New Theory”, live at the Georgia Theatre:

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All in all the show was a triumph of sorts for Washed Out, in the sense that it marked the successful opening of a new chapter in the band’s history: one where they stepped out from beyond the Chillwave label so frequently ascribed to them (if not entirely leaving it behind) both on wax and live in person. The new songs and their stellar live interpretations show that Ernest Greene is an artist at the fore of his peer group and one whose maturation should prove very interesting to watch.

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All photo credit: Caitlin Webb