by Irene Lo
Fairy lights were strung up on the ceiling while sparkly foliage lurked on-stage behind Ernest Greene of Washed Out as he performed in Vancouver at Fortune Sound Club to support his new sophomore album Paracosm. If you’ve given Paracosm the old spin on the record player or have even just glanced at its delightfully whimsical cover art design then you see what Washed Out did there: the splendor of naive innocence set against a romantic and natural backdrop. It’s kind of William Blake of him.
The opening song “It All Feels Right” reinforced neo-hippie sensibilities with an intro chock-full of chimes, the struggling bird coo, and occasional harp flutter. Reverbed, unintelligible lyrics except for one or two words or one or two short phrases, however, are expected for Washed Out, and Greene delivered his A-game best when he mumble-sung “think about the old times. What’s it all about? The feeling when it all works out.”
“Get Up” heard live and felt deeply (thanks to drums and keyboard) got the ball going, and Greene, apparently, felt the music too since he initiated hand-clapping partway through the song. Another old favourite that was played was “Belong”, a chilly track that flirts with reggae and has the memorable line “let me see who you are.” “Belong” received a short but nice instrumental riffing. “New Theory” carried on the show’s further momentum for immediate hooks with the crowd spontaneously clapping in unison to the beat. The lights flashed first red then yellow.
A nifty song that Washed Out included in their set was a remix of Despicable Dog’s track “Small Black”, which, besides being moodier than the songs that went before it, was a fun little surprise. TV-famous “Feel It All Around” was one instantaneous hit of wave after wave of feeling, and although that feeling wasn’t dance like no one’s watching, “Feel It All Around” hit a natural high for those so musically inclined.
“Don’t Give Up”, one of the singles off Paracosm, was reminiscent to Washed Out’s earlier work in being a song that one “listens to” while making out with someone. Greene worked the keyboard while he sung right up into the microphone. Some strands of hair had fallen out of his bun in the process of working up a sweat. At one point he wanted to know if someone could fix the mic because he sounded like five.
Other new tracks like “Amor Fati” and “Paracosm” were played as well. “Amor Fati” was decent and tolerable although its somewhat dated quality made it more of a filler in effect than anything else. “Paracosm”, on the other hand, was an ultimately dreamy listen that features more harp strumming that was mesmerizing and uplifting.
A packed show that started off strong, Washed Out pulled back from its mini-dance party midway through to slow things down. Greene was a pleasantly perfunctory performer that asked the audience “how it was going” and moved around a bit on-stage to pump up excitement, but he mostly sang, mixed, and shook stuff like a tambourine or percussion shakers, which was exciting nevertheless.
Inhabiting Washed Out’s lush fantasy world for a night out was putting a night to good use.