Live Review

Washed Out, ATP Nightmare Before Christmas

Ernest Greene and co. serenade with 90s dance classics that you must have somehow forgotten from your youth.

Washed Out and I go way back. Well, I say “way back” - let me take you back to just summer of last year. The solo-project-come-full-blown-band fronted by Ernest Greene were booked to play the Pstereo festival in Trondheim, Norway - a festival that I was also set to cover - and we came across each other in the lobby of a hotel while booking in. A bit of a “lost in translation” moment occurred with one of the hotel receptionists (probably down to my complete and utter inability to speak Norwegian rather than his slightly-stunted use of English) which led to me repeatedly being forced the key to the aforementioned band’s room instead of my own.

Fast-forward to the Saturday leg of the ATP Nightmare Before Christmas and Washed Out cross my path once again, being hand-chosen by co-curaters Battles to perform at Centre Stage. As the set goes on, it becomes increasingly apparent that one member of the live set-up in particular seems to be, I’ll try to phrase this sensitively here, handed rather menial tasks. These include shaking a tambourine so gently that you probably wouldn’t hear it in a primary school nativity play. So what I’m trying to get at is that it could have been me up on the stage, instead of below amongst the crowd. Oh cruel fate.

But despite this minor qualm, the band are largely on top form. Playing a set consisting mostly of tracks from his 2011 full-length ‘Within And Without’, with a few select cuts from his first two EPs thrown in for good measure - Greene and co succeed in expanding material that could seem quite flat and feeble compared to the vastness of the hall they’re playing to.

Surprisingly, despite the more expansive nature of the more recent LP, it is the songs of old that stand out from the setlist. It’s tracks like ‘New Theory’ (which is one of the only songs that exist in the world that could possibly be tagged as a ‘chillwave anthem’) and ‘Hold Out’ grow and bloom out of their laptop-based origins and truly sound like 90s dance classic that you must have somehow forgotten from your youth. Such is this uneven weighing of quality between the two sets of material, it’ll be really interesting to see what the band come out with next on record. And from this performance, they’re a group that have truly outstretched their genre tag - now they just need to find the tunes again.

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