Saturday, September 22, 2012

Washed Out and Shades Cast a Chillwave Over Reef

Posted By on Sat, Sep 22, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Ernest Green and Washed Out start the dance party.
  • Andrew Crisp
  • Ernest Green and Washed Out start the dance party Friday at Reef.

Boise's Reef has a penchant for hip-hop and electronica, doing both to success on the regular. On Friday, Sept. 21, the venue added the upstart "Chillwave" to its repertoire.

It's a loosely defined genre, typified by electronic beats and reverb-heavy vocals, for which headliner Washed Out is given credit for spreading.

Louie Bash of Shades plays a keyboard on Friday, Sept. 21.
  • Josh Gross
  • Louie Bash of Shades plas a keyboard on Friday.

Boise band Shades started things off a quarter after 10. The sound at Reef offered more much needed bass than a performance at the Linen Building earlier this summer, when Shades numbered four. With the updated lineup, Louie Bash mashed the keys, Tom Racine switched between synth and guitar and singer David Mikkelson crooned heavily distorted vocals.

Gesturing to the stage, a companion remarked:

"Mikkelson and I went to school together," she said. "I've made out with him in four different bathrooms."

In April, Shades told BW the band would transition to a more analog sound, but their Friday night performance was heavily digital. The large crowd bunched up close to the stage, each of the closest listeners shimmying in time.

Washed Out lets a chillwave bathe the crowd at Reef.
  • Andrew Crisp
  • Washed Out lets a chillwave bathe the crowd at Reef.

Somehow, when Georgia's Washed Out took the stage, the sea of people pressed closer. Stage left, a sliver of dance floor between the stage and a row of booths quickly became clogged with people.

An important element of crafting Chillwave in a live setting requires seamlessness. Washed Out's cascading layers of sound were meshed together well enough to achieve that result, as well as move the dance-happy crowd in new and diverse ways from track to track.

Perhaps suggested by the title of the genre, both Chillwave artists didn't spend much time interacting with the crowd. Shades and WO took and left the stage without much fanfare, and there was no chanting nor encore. The crowd seemed not to mind.

WO's most popular song, "Feel it All Around," became the title track of the comedy series Portlandia. Though the live performance of that track included an intro a smidge different than the band's recorded material, the crowd ate it up.

When BW previewed the Washed Out performance on Wednesday, we wrote that founder Ernest Green would be bringing "the Chillwave gospel to Boise."

The flock turned out to pay penance.

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