By Luna Brewer, Electronic Co-Director
The chillwave group Washed Out’s performance at the Mill and Mine on Thursday, March 1, was anything but chill.
The show was previously not selling well, so audience members slowly trickled in, creating an intimate environment for the evening. As opener Biyo, a Nashville future-R&B outfit, hit the stage, couples crowded together and swayed to the group’s romantic songs.
Finishing their set with a rendition of Usher’s “Climax,” Biyo had brought in a large crowd who were also anxious for Washed Out’s set. Washed Out mastermind Ernest Greene, his backup keyboardist and drummer appeared onstage dressed in all white, with a blank projector screen behind them. Then as their first song, “Burn Out Blues,” from 2017’s album “Mister Mellow” began, colorful psychedelic images washed over the stage, painting the band members into miniature projector screens themselves.
As the audience members danced and got lost in the music, Washed Out played songs from their new visual album, “Mister Mellow,” 2013’s “Paracosm” and even some early tunes, including “Feel It All Around,” which was featured on the IFC show “Portlandia.”
Washed Out’s music has always been intended to make people dance, chill and feel, but Greene’s performance more than exemplified those ideals. The core of the show, which was mainly focused on Washed Out’s most intimate and personal album, “Mister Mellow,” attacked youth experiences of a culture of social media, drugs and fantasy to hide from daily insecurities.
Despite Washed Out’s chill demeanor, it’s clear that, both within the show and within the most recent album, the group has taken a broader approach to their music, including heavier beats that contrast with styles like jazz, house and hip-hop, but still maintained the amount of chill that audiences expect.
The band’s final song of their set, “Amor Fati” from 2011’s “Within and Without,” left the Mill and Mine audience begging for more. After considerable cheering, pounding and shouts for an encore, Washed Out returned to the stage to leave audience members with “Eyes Be Closed” and “Soft,” both from their 2011 album.
Buzzing from the show, and perhaps a little bit lost, audience members left the night hoping for a quick return of the chillwave group to Knoxville.