By Rob Moya
On April 10, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg took e for the first time. Not e as in ecstasy, e as in Ernest Greene. I couldn’t get annoyed at the hipsters who were on the real thing (dry sex couple behind me), I was just moments away from experiencing the genius behind my 2009 summer soundtrack, Washed Out, in 4-D.
Now, “moments” is a bit of an exaggeration, it was more like three hours. Not three hours of boredom, no no, three hours of synthetic honey into our 700-plus eardrums. First up was a solo act called Psychobuildings. Far from the conventional stage performance, this gentleman was dressed like a gothic ballerino flaunting moves reminiscent of the late Michael Jackson. Having difficulty getting past their giggles, my friends left for a smoke, I remained to admire the weird but appealing man in his unitard.
Second up was Pictureplane, a guy from Denver who wanted so badly for us to have an orgy, demanding the lights be dimmed every so often. Half an orgy was what he accomplished (dry sex couple behind me) with his music sounding like sexed-up 80’s freestyle beats with dashes of schizo and gay. I enjoyed it to be honest. To my surprise, my friend, a virgin to this scene, was tripping gleefully, not to mention the three miscellaneous dancers, one of whom was moving her body so sensually, it had to be illegal.
To follow was Small Black, a local band I had been following several weeks leading up to the show. Their emotional capacity was brought to my attention when adjacent to me stood a single man, crying out his woe , which would eventually find its way into this atmospheric blend of cathartic humidity, to be rendered insignificant but so relevant.
Small Black’s sound can be best described as skinny-dipping in a lake full of summer memories with the taste of cigarettes on your lips. Listen to “Despicable Dogs.” Lucky are those who saw them perform at our very own University Café this past February.
Then in came Ernest.
He was dressed in a white shirt, a wrinkled pair of corduroys, disheveled hair and complacent smirk. Ernest took his sweet time setting up – each patient movement shouting his reluctance to bid farewell (it was the last show of the tour), each patient movement leaking confidence. There I was, staring at him, a god of my new addiction – chillwave.
Washed Out is sweet and simple, not overdone like many bands striving for novelty, but skillfully refined. This is holistic art, to be admired like a Gestalt edifice. Music like this is rare and special. It was a hot July day when I stumbled upon Washed Out’s “Feel It all Around”, my curious ears wanting something nice and fresh. Nice, fresh and beyond is what I got. A song like this, a privilege for the hearing, should only be discovered by accident.
No surprise that “Feel It all Around” is Ernest’s best track which he played last (accompanied by Small Black). The familiar ‘domp domp –domp –domp’ of the opening measure filled the hall, all ears and eyes attuned and eager for the 3 minutes of ‘feeling it all around’ to follow.
It’s hard to recall what happened at that time. I didn’t care where my friends were, I didn’t care who shoved me, I had no idea when the song began and when it would end, I didn’t give a shit at all…I was on e, man.
Unfortunately, this song is a sample of Gary Low’s “I Want You” and those people who call themselves music enthusiasts say any form of instrumental recycling disappoints them. Well, optimism would simply call this homage.
There was an encore—Washed Out’s own remix of Small Black’s “Despicable Dogs.” A few courageous fans climbed onstage, I couldn’t help but follow. I danced a bit, my legs buckling under my excited weight. When all was done, I fumbled my way towards Ernest and shook the man’s hand, sweat and all.