When it comes to seeing chillwave live, I don’t set the bar very high. The shows I’ve been to (Toro Y Moi, Millionyoung, etc.) have been pretty formulaic and simplistic: A dude, a laptop/keyboard/synth/other electronics, a microphone, and maybe, just maybe, if we’re really lucky, a guitar. I’ve decided that if I’m watching a particular chillwave artist and they’re in a good mood, then I’ll be in a good mood. That’s all it will take. So while I was pretty excited that Washed Out (a.k.a. Ernest Greene) would be performing at Eye Level Art, I was keeping my glass half-empty.
Washed Out came to the Lowcountry, his first time in South Carolina, along with artist Mark Gravel, a former Charlestonian whose work with the Bouwerie collective has him serving bean-based dishes at temporary restaurants he’s set up in cities like Brooklyn and San Francisco. He named Charleston’s version Peaches after the state fruit of South Carolina and of Georgia, where Greene hails from. Before the show, Gravel scooped out rations of his vegan red-bean gumbo onto rice, each portion lovingly sprinkled with scallions before it was handed to a waiting patron. Some people may have avoided Peaches because of the rainy Tuesday evening, but really, what better way to find comfort on a dreary evening than with a warm, rib-sticking dish?
Following a DJ, Greene took the stage with a full band, including his wife. The group crowded the space with multiple gadgets and gizmos as well as a bass, a couple of drum kits, and a tambourine. It’s always interesting to see complex, layered music performed live, to see the intricacies involved in creating the sounds we hear on the record. For the most part, Greene stuck to vocals, occasionally taking to a keyboard or synth but mostly letting his bandmates handle the rest.
A couple songs in, Greene asked the crowd to loosen up and start moving. I mean, come on people. It may be a long time before a show like this happens here again — Toro Y Moi (Chaz Bundick, who was in the audience last night) was nine months ago. Shake your asses people. The centrally located members of the audience (i.e. the only people really in my line of sight) complied, myself included. The spirits on stage were equally high, and like I said, that’s all I really need to enjoy myself. I'm easy. But in more technical terms, the sound was great, especially for a venue that wasn’t originally intended to host shows. Eye Level, please do more events like this in the future.
It was a fun show, but very short. Almost too short. But I guess it was a Tuesday.