It’s pretty smoky in Gorilla on a dark and rainy Tuesday evening. The final support act sips his cocktail of beer and orange juice, assuring us it’s a “pretty decent combination”, and whacks on another house beat. The scattering of live vocals and trumpet keeps us sane for just long enough. Finally Washed Out clamber on to the stage, seemingly out of nowhere, and launch into Paracosm’s first track “It All Feels Right” – of which it does, for the first few minutes. It’s tropical and ambient yet the crowd are statues. The cold, dead, terracotta/paisley army of hipsters must be to blame as the set descends into a wall of sound for the next forty minutes. The shoegazey-rhythmic blowout is usually a good laugh, but it doesn’t suit Washed Out. Forget the distortion and the blasting, they should be about the tranquil, the serene; and I just don’t hear it.
The drums murmur an underlying groove which is definitely enough to bite into, but the array of Korgs scattered around the stage too-easily drown out everything else. Greene, birther of the Washed Out brainchild, seems too acclimatised to the bedroom DJ sets and doesn’t use the backing band effectively enough.
There is potential though, as the set begins to become clearer and more focussed, as if the water in the ears has escaped or the smoke has lifted and pulled with it the spirit of the music. I, and maybe even the crowd, really enjoyed the last quarter of the gig and I felt that Washed Out deserve another chance, when it isn’t cold or damp. They deserve the outdoors and the summer, or at least a better sound system. Maybe then the band’s ambitious and vivid sound won’t feel so washed out.