Washed Out – Photo by Nancy Hoang

“It’s not hippy music,” the girl behind me told her obviously ill-informed boyfriend at Terminal 5 last night. And ill-informed he was, because “hippy” ought to be the furthest thing from your mind when you think of Ernest Greene’s Washed Out. What he could have said was, “I think I’m in The Secret Garden,” because Terminal 5 was like something out of a fairytale for Washed Out’s biggest headlining show yet. As Greene himself said, it was just four years ago when he played his first show in New York City’s Santos Party House, which caps at 500 people, and he retained that humility throughout the nearly sold-out Terminal 5 show.
In the eco-friendly world of today, rugs simply don’t cut it anymore as stage decoration. It’s out with the old, and in with the grass. Washed Out transformed their stage with flowery lights draped across the ceiling, floral arrangements stretching across the stage, and a giant mat of plastic green grass that I couldn’t stop myself from petting. If the stage decor didn’t make you feel one with nature, Washed Out’s hazy, tropical music undoubtably did. Their set opened with oldies like Belong and Life of Leisure‘s Get Up. But rather than just reminiscing on past albums, Washed Out breathed new life into these fan favorites by reworking them onstage.
With each passing track and a Small Black cover (Despicable Dogs), the crowd just couldn’t get enough. Remaining a passive bystander isn’t an option when Washed Out perform because the energy the band has onstage is addictive and long-lasting. Greene sounded as pristine as he does on recordings, but in a live setting, backed by his stellar live band, things get a little more explosive. Whether Greene was loping across the stage riling up his adoring audience or head-banging to the mind-numbing melodies his band was creating, he wore an effortlessly happy expression.
When their set was over and the band left the stage, the crowd cheered for Washed Out’s immediate return and encore. One by one, each member returned and they closed the night with Eyes Be Closed. Everyone in the venue was bewitched by a sputtering light show, and as the song came to a close Greene switched spots with his guitarist who stood center stage, playing a solo that faded to total darkness. How fitting.
While this show was Washed Out’s biggest headlining show to date, it was a pretty momentous occasion for opener, HAERTS, too. The gravity of their biggest crowd yet did not get the best of this year-old band. With the onstage room for decorations quite expansive compared to their last show at Bowery Ballroom, the New York band looked at home as they played to the flickering lights that matched the pace of their set. Wings had the crowd swaying along to Nini Fabi’s sweet saccharine vocals and ultimately wishing HAERTS were playing a little bit longer.
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