View photos from Washed Out's performance at Eve here.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Better than: Chilling on chillwave -- at home.
We didn't really know what to expect last night at Eve. Sure, Washed Out frontman Ernest Greene has done a solid job of being the poster boy for a musical movement. But his softly echoing vocals combined with track sampling and penchant for laidback tunes isn't for everyone.
Don't get us wrong, we love the term chillwave. But some people may have taken it a little too literally last night -- and we're not talking about the bands.
We arrived at Eve a little after 10 p.m. and the line was already forming. The younger show-goers seem to not run on "Miami time," and once we were inside, we saw how young this crowd really was. Shows for music blog sensations usually bring in plenty of barely legal kids dressed just in case they're about to be spotted by street style photographers. But this show had an alarmingly large number of people that had barely hit puberty. Were they all really ready to ride the "chillwave"?
The music before the bands was far from chillwave, though. Walking in, we heard old hip-hop tracks like Outkast's "The Way You Move" and rump-shakers like "Murder She Wrote" that made us wonder if we'd entered a time portal back into freshman year of high school. And Washed Out's 40-minute set? Well, that didn't start off too "chill," either.
A little after 11:30, ANR took the stage -- and we could barely spot anyone our own age in the crowd. The Miami two-piece jumped into its performance with "Stay Kids." There were groups of tween-y fans dancing like nobody was watching, mixed in with jaded 20-somethings just there to hear the music.
We've seen ANR perform countless times. But this had to be one of their best sets yet. The nonstop touring the duo's been doing the last few months seems to have added even more oomph to its stage presence. And regularly stellar performances notwithstanding, opening for big bands seems to agree with them.
Though we could recognize ANR's songs, some sounded a little different -- almost like slowed-down love songs you expect to hear at the climax of a romantic comedy right before the guy gets the girl. The temporary change of pace was a welcome addition to the pair's balls-to-the-wall dance anthem performances. Were they trying to chill-out some of their vibes in homage to the headliner? That's how we took it, anyway. And as we see it, even with extended instrument solos, ANR can do no wrong.
Around 1 a.m., Washed Out -- Greene and three other musicians -- took the stage. And what everyone's been saying is right: Seeing Washed Out live is nothing like hearing the CDs alone in your bedroom. The band trades in its smooth, dream-like, recorded-in-my-garage quality for something that's both more rich and more alive. The drums are louder, the guitar and bass crisper, and Greene's voice a lot less distorted. The band gives up its trademark lo-fi gimmicks to put on a live indie rock show. So much so, we couldn't recognize a lot of the songs till they hit the bridge.
Greene took to the mic, announcing authoritatively, "This is chillwave!" But we couldn't help but feel that the guitars and drums -- though more powerful and demanding -- sort of take away from the real "chillwave" experience.
The younger set cleared out for the most part for Washed Out, making us wonder: Were they just here to see ANR? Or were they past curfew? Either way, we spotted guys doing the robot, breakdancing, and a kid celebrating his birthday by walking around holding a half-empty Grey Goose bottle and nodding like he was in a rap video. He was a ham for the cameras, and posed every chance he got between climbing on couches and fist pumping -- a welcome addition to an otherwise relaxed scene.
Midway through Washed Out's set the music stopped entirely, making us hope it wasn't over just yet. After a few minutes of fiddling around, the band confessed that they were experiencing "technical difficulties" and had to change up its set. The result? Keyboards and slower music took over, making us think, "So this is chillwave."
It felt a little like we were in an '80s synth heaven, and it all seemed to make the band work that much harder to get their songs out there -- which the crowd responded to and seemed to appreciate.
Personal Bias: I've seen ANR perform live more times than I can count. Their shows never seem to get boring.
The Crowd: Lots of 20-somethings, hipsters, trendy kids.
Overheard in the Crowd: "What's the name of this band, AARP?" "No, ANR." "Oh. AARP would've been way funnier."
Random Detail: There was an underage kid who took the "chill" in chillwave a little too literally. He passed out on one of the couches, and this humble blogger was standing next to him as he snored with his mouth open and onlookers walked up to photograph him. Ouch.
ANR Set List
-"Don't Fear The Get Out"
-"The Endless Field Of Mercury"
-"The Get Out"