Washed Out, aka Ernest Greene, just released his third full length album, Mister Mellow via Stones Throw Records; the first new album in 4 years. The chillwave pioneer’s new album is not only an audio album, but a full visual album. By forming a partnership with Microsoft, Washed Out brought to life the visual album with a stunning live show that’s unique to each stop of the tour, including his home state show at Variety Playhouse on Monday, July 17th.
Over the 4 years since the release of Washed Out’s last album Paracosm, Ernest Greene has continued to live outside of Athens, GA, had a son, and hasn’t played a ton of live shows either. With Mister Mellow, Washed Out is back with the new album and a big summer tour. Conceived over the course of 2 years, Mister Mellow is an intensely personal album that attacks the experiences shared by many of today’s youth – a culture of social media, fantasy, and drugs used to hide from their daily insecurities.
Washed Out’s music has always involved sounds that allow the listener to lose themselves within the music, almost allowing the listener to step out of their daily struggles and into another world. His music allows listeners to dance, chill, but most importantly, it allows one to FEEL. While Mister Mellow still feels like the chillwave music Ernest Greene pioneered on the surface, this album takes a different approach, really honing in on the beats and using contrasting styles of free jazz, house, hip-hop and psych. Of course, there’s many small nuances to the album that pop with soundscapes that always keep it interesting, and more importantly keeps the listener just the right level of chill that Washed Out is known for.
Mister Mellow is also a multimedia album, with each track having different stop-motion, collage, claymation and hand-drawn animated visuals. In order to bring the visual album alive at Washed Out’s shows, he has partnered with Microsoft to incorporate Microsoft Kinect technology and the album visuals to create a fully immersive experience that continually transforms based on the band members movements on stage. With this technology in play, no two Washed Out shows are alike, giving each city something unique. As you can see from some of the pictures, the visuals all evening were absolutely sick!
Washed Out started out the Variety Playhouse show by following Mister Mellow’s track list over the first 4 songs, including album opener “Title Card” and hitting the dreamy, beat heavy “Floating By”, lulling the audience into a trance. From there, Washed Out played the first old material on the night with “Get Up”, off his debut EP Life of Leisure. The live show jumped back into album order for two more songs, including the second single “Hard To Say Goodbye”. After the single, Washed Out starting mixing in more old material with “Don’t Give Up” from Paracosm and “New Theory” from Life of Leisure. The crowd then really started bouncing more with “Zonked” off of Mister Mellow. The album’s lead single “Get Lost,” then came on that had psychedelic visuals commanding the audience to “Take a hit and get LOST,” perhaps laughing with us as an audience needing that moment. Ending the set with the hit “Feel It All Around” off of the debut EP, Washed Out had the audience totally immersed into the sound and effervescent visuals. Coming back on stage for the encore, Washed Out played one last song, “Eyes Be Closed,” ending the night with two of the iconic chillwave songs. For a Monday night, this audience had no problem getting lost for the night with Washed Out. It’s clear that Ernest Greene has really sharpened in on the psychedelic aspect of not only his music, but also the live show, creating a full experience when you see Washed Out live.
To open the show, Washed Out brought along another Georgia product on this tour. DEGA is a band that made it obvious throughout their set that they are ones to watch and listen for. DEGA is the husband and wife duo of Aslyn and Kalen Nash, now living in Joshua Tree for the last few years. Aslyn made some noise while living in Atlanta as a Capitol Records signed artist, and releasing two albums and an EP from 2005-2009. Kalen comes from Atlanta, GA-based Ponderosa, who garnered attention in 2011 and 2013 with their two albums, one more southern rock and the other with neo-psych, dream rock. The pair reached some success in their individual projects, but with their new electro pop project DEGA, the duo seems poised to reach new heights together.
There doesn’t seem to be much info out there yet on DEGA. They have one killer synth pop jam, “Don’t Call It”, on Spotify, released in 2017. There are a few clips of other songs out there from live performances and a few songs on YouTube with promises of a spring 2016 release. Whatever the delay may be, their live performance at Variety Playhouse showed that it will be worth the wait whenever they officially release their album. From one song to the next, as the duo harmonized and switched lead vocals, the band would at one moment have the audience dancing to the smooth beats, while the next they’d put you in a trance with songs that were every bit as euphoric as the headliner himself. It wasn’t just me either. With a quick scan around the audience, you could actually see and hear the duo winning over crowd and leaving them buzzed along the way. And then Washed Out happened…..
Check out Mike Gerry‘s photos from Washed Out and DEGA’s show at Variety Playhouse:
Washed Out Upcoming Tour Dates:
Aug. 12: Dallas @ Gorilla vs Bear Festival at Bomb Factory
Aug. 14 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre Tickets
Aug. 15 – Los Angeles, CA @ Wiltern Tickets
Aug. 16 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater Tickets
Aug. 18 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater Tickets
Aug. 19 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox Tickets
Aug. 21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot Tickets
Aug. 22 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theater Tickets
Aug. 24 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue Tickets
Aug. 25 – Chicago, IL @ Metro Tickets
Aug. 26 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall Tickets
Aug. 28 – Boston, MA @ Royale Tickets
Aug. 29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel Tickets
Aug. 30 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer Tickets
Aug. 31 – Washington DC @ 9:30 Club Tickets