On Saturday night, I made my way to the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco to take in a night of music at The Great American Music Hall (GAMH). This is an intimate space with amazing acoustics that has you quickly forgetting your entrance from one the most run down neighborhoods in SF. Washed Out, a project from Georgia based producer Ernest Greene, is releasing a much talked about debut album Within and Without tomorrow (7/12). To celebrate the release, Washed Out performed a three-show run (7/8 Echoplex – Los Angeles, 7/9 GAMH – San Francisco and 7/11 Bowery Ballroom – New York City). Each show generated a lot of buzz with each night selling out well in advance.
The music started off strong with The Chain Gang of 1974 (Kamtin Mohager) taking the stage. They gave the crowd a powerful intro, serving up their dark song “Heartbreakin’ Scream” from their recently released album Wayward Fire. The song certainly caught the attention of the audience who likely had never heard them before this night. After the first song, Kamtin left the stage and entered the crowd—mic and stand in hand. He encouraged the crowd to join him in dancing as they threw down the heavy-hitting, bass-fueled, “Devil Is A Lady”. The curiosity of the crowd quickly spread as the space around Kamtin filled with onlookers and those who could not help but dance. As the show progressed, the crowd became more and more comfortable, and began to move about the dance floor. With the warning of one final song, they decided to play their best-known song, “Hold On”. This gave us a healthy eight minutes of dancing before we entered our first break of the evening.
Class ActressNext up, Class Actress sent out waves of bass and dancey grooves for us to digest. The Brooklyn-based electro-pop project fronted by the dreamy voice of Elizabeth Harper continued to build on the excitement leading up to the arrival of Washed Out. They will be releasing their debut album Rapprocher on October 18. One of the best songs of their set was “Keep You”, which is the opening track on their forthcoming album. “Keep You” starts out with a very strong synth line and brings in some smooth vocals and beat. The song was recognized by a few in the audience as they could not help but sing-a-long and throw their arms in the air. They played a solid set as Elizabeth Harper gracefully moved around the stage. This included the soft track, “Let Me Take You Out,” and “Journal of Ardency” before leaving the stage.
Following the two fantastic openers, the crowd had completely filled the balcony area and main floor in anticipation of Washed Out’s live performance. I had no idea what this concert would include. When a full band walked out onto the stage, my expectations were absolutely blown away.
In celebration of the soon to be released album, they went through a large group of tracks from the upcoming debut release. One of the first songs played was the title track from the release “Within and Without”. Hearing this slow burning song live created a very spaced out feeling enhanced by the fluid lyrics. To liven up the dance floor they played the song “Belong” which has a tropical 80’s feel. At this point, I could no longer hold off dancing.
Throughout the set, Ernest Greene’s passion was on display as he continuously jumped up and down and directed the audience to dance and sing along. “New Theory”, another older track, led the crowd into singing and clapping along. The most unexpected element of this show was the saxophone that was featured on “Far Away”, much to the crowd’s approval. They closed out the night by playing their hit “Feel It Around”, which is the opening track to the IFC original series Portlandia. The band left the stage with the music still bumping and returned to Encore with the opening track of Within and Without “Eyes Be Closed”; a very fitting close to the show that left me wanting to press play and listen to the album once again in its entirety.
You can stay connected with each of these artists on Facebook and can pick up Washed Out’s Within and Without starting on Tuesday (7/12).