By Meg Schmitt
It’s not too often that Grinnell, awesome metropolis of culture, gets the opportunity to see a show of the caliber that performer-producer Ernest Greene, known on the music scene as Washed Out, put on this Tuesday in Gardener.
The composition of the crowd clearly reflected just how far Greene’s reputation precedes him, with at least as many incoming visitors as students in the mix. The night’s entertainment carried the theme of production in music, with each of the trio of performances representing different takes on production.
“What the night is really about is showcasing producing itself,” said Pooj Padmaraj ’13, SGA Concerts Chair.
While much of the night’s crowd was from outside Grinnell, the show opened with the musical styling of Will Jackson ’13, who set the tone of the night with strong bass and pumped-up melodies. The home crowd supported the homegrown musician, with plenty of enthusiastic head bobbing and cheering.
After warming up the crowd with the local talent, the second opening performers, The GTW & Bengfang, took the stage. The Chicago “production and rap duo”, as described by Padmaraj, showcased their unique variety of music.
The pair has just released a new EP, 4814, a combined effort mixing the different stylings of electronic mixing by Bengfang and rhyming rap by the GTW.
Bengfang introduced some unusual elements in his opening set, including the use of some cowbell and limited vocals, with a foundation of exaggerated bass notes. The GTW tried to rally the crowd to their feet, with the somewhat confusing compositions of “Sweet and Sour” and “Running all my Life.”
While the pair brought an interesting element of co-production to the evening’s line-up, some of the students were left with a sentiment similar to the GTW’s interlude chorus of “What da f*ck’s up?”
The crowd wasn’t distracted or deterred for long—the light display launching the headliner act drew any lingering eyes back to center-stage. Washed Out’s Greene stepped on stage and rolled out Amor Fati, the top single on his newest album released in July 2011, Within and Without.
The set continued with mixed songs from the latest, as well as his debut album, Life of Leisure, each more enthralling than the last. Padmaraj aptly described the music as “really groovy and danceable.”
Even with the crowd swaying and jumping along as usual, there was a noticeable departure from the standard concert experience in Gardner. Grinnellians Andy Lange ’13 and Joel Coats ’13 were impressed by the shift.
“Usually, there’s an emphasis on DJs and guitars…[Washed Out] was not guitar-driven rock,” Lange said.
The concert had an intriguingly different atmosphere to the normally overwhelming rave vibe of most concerts at Grinnell – the soft echoing vocals and synthesized “chill-wave” feeling evoked by Greene’s style was reflected in the movement of the crowd.
“This was much more relaxed,” Coats said.
The high energy was present in the soft awe and quiet energy of the audience’s enthusiasm for the psychedelic tones of Washed Out’s vivid performance. Even the sirens of the fire alarms could not break through the bizarre yet grippingly contented aura in Gardner.