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It’s obvious that music affects your mood, but something I sometimes forget is that your mood (and your situation) can also affect the music you hear. This was very much the case for last night’s Washed Out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Despite my excitement to see the band for the first time, I had trouble dragging myself out of bed where I had been napping, so I got there half-an-hour late, which fortunately was right before the first band, Memoryhouse came on. This was my first exposure to Memoryhouse, a dream-pop/glo-fi band from Toronto, although they clearly had a very dedicated following as they nearly filled MHOW on a Monday night, an impressive feat for an opener. When it comes to their sound, their name pretty much says it all, as Evan Abeele and Denise Nouvion could very well be the poster children of modern synthed out lo-fi nostalgia. Despite the overwhelming popularity of their aesthetic, Memoryhouse managed to stand apart from their peers through the proficiency of their instrumentals. I was especially impressed with Abeele’s drumming. Although I have absolutely no experience with rhythm instruments, it seemed to me that Memoryhouse brought a dynamism to their music through their drumming that many other shoegaze-inspired groups lack. Memoryhouse have recently released their debut LP on Sup Pop.
Washed Out, on the other hand, is a band that I was familiar with before going to this show. For me, Washed Out is a band for a very specific place in time. Despite their clear ’80s club references, I listen to them while studying, or to soothe my hungover brain. For me, they are very much Sunday afternoon as opposed to Saturday night music. So I was very surprised at the way they sounded last night. In their live show, Washed Out highlighted the danceable, synth-pop aspects of their sound and very much underplayed the lo-fi, hazy drone that makes their album so enjoyable for me. Washed Out straddles the glo-fi line between dreamier bands such as, say, Memoryhouse, and more danceable artists like Neon Indian. However, their live show was definitively on the Neon Indian side of the chillwave line. Now, if it had been a Saturday night, and I had been a little tipsy, and with a couple of friends, I might have enjoyed Washed Out’s set. However, I was by myself, completely sober, looking forward to a 9am class the next morning, and expecting a dreamy, beautifully soporific drone to soothe me to sleep. So unfortunately, I did not enjoy Washed Out’s set as much as I was expecting to. Everyone else, however, had a great time, and this was mostly because of the extreme put-togetherness of their performance. For a band that recorded its first album in a bedroom, Washed Out had a remarkable stage presence that was theatrical yet unobtrusive. They were very confident onstage and very comfortable with their instruments. So while I may have been disappointed with their musical choices, I can only commend Washed Out for putting on a great dance party.
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