With the day-after alcohol-induced consequences of Cinco de Mayo in full effect, a performance by Washed Out at the Observatory Sunday was the perfect path to recovery for fans in Santa Ana.
Washed Out of Sub Pop Records is lead by Ernest Greene from Perry, Georgia. The band is popular among chillwave fans, a genre that entwines 80’s new wave synthesizers, unique samples, and hard-hitting bass kicks.
Memoryhouse, a Canadian dream pop trio and Sub Pop label mates, opened up the show. The band’s low toned synthesizers underlined a statically distorted but vibrant guitar while the drummer played off-timing grooves pumping the lifeblood of the band’s gentle pulse.
The band exerts a mood through the crowd that makes you want to hang your head but still smile. Each song was packed full of reverb, an effect that gives artificial acoustics. With every track the band gave off a mystical aura, but built up to influence a sliver of positivity in Memoryhouse’s masterful songwriting.
In between the sets, the allure of alcohol pouring from two full bars and one mini-bar in the venue drew many to quench their thirst. Cigarette smoke enticed the audience back to the smoking section. A funny black bathroom attendant chatted up with oddly dressed hipsters to solicit tips. It worked.
Finally the sound of droning background noise and trickling synthesizer blips filled the air. The main event was about to begin.
As Greene and his band mates, including his wife Blair Sexton Greene, took the stage the lights shut out. A menacing blue light traced the band’s gear, causing the crowd to explode. The group played their first song and as it went on the members all looked to each other with confusion: something was wrong.
The opening song of their set still sounded good, but Greene decided he had better take a look at his malfunctioning keyboard.
After a few minutes the band repeated their initial take to the stage, this time opening up with the classic song “Get Up” off their first EP Life of Leisure. More applause and excitement rushed through the venue floor as Washed Out’s music demanded even more from the fans given the false start beginning their set.
Most of the songs played came from Washed Out’s 2011 debut full-length album Within and Without. The band also peppered EP tracks in between, such as the popular track “Feel It All Around” heard on the opening shots of the IFC original series Portlandia.
After exhausting their set the band retired backstage as the blue light took their place over their keyboards. The audience wanted more.
After a solid minute of non-stop cheering and clapping, Washed Out came back out for three more songs in a encore that left the room in awe.
Sunday was Washed Out’s first time performing in Orange County and the crowd’s response guaranteed it would not be their last.