Published Mar 31, 2010Small Black and Washed Out have both benefited from the MP3 and blog age that music is currently going through. By passing along their fresh outta-the-bedroom tracks along to key blogs, they've managed to gain overnight success, resulting in big international tours and labels lining up to release their music. An obvious question to all this is, can the intimacy of these bedroom recordings, which have been made on laptops — not to mention have been listened to primarily on laptops — translate to the live setting?
For Brooklyn's Small Black, the answer is no. Originally a duo, they've added two more members to help flesh out their sound live, though most of the work still seemed to be done by their ubiquitous laptop. The band played overtop of the pre-recorded music and muddied up the sound so badly that no discernible hook or melody could be heard over the resulting mess. Even Josh Kolenik's vocals were so marred by echo that, even if there were memorable melodies to be heard, they were completely lost in translation, resulting in a monotonous and tiring set.
Washed Out (aka Ernest Greene) followed and, for the first half of his set, played solo and introduced mostly new material, which was considerably more amped-up and even rave-like compared to the laid-back grooves found on recent releases. However, anyone expecting Greene to divert from the formula with his well-known tracks, including the bulk of his Life Of Leisure EP, were sorely disappointed.
Greene ecstatically jumped and gyrated alongside his laptop, offering up nothing more than, well, a guy dancing in front of a computer, which seemed to suit most of the audience just fine. Greene was eventually "helped out" by Small Black, who backed him up for the last half of his performance but added little to the performance other than creating a full stage.
If you came to hear Greene's music exactly the same way you hear it at home, then this show was made for you. If you came to hear even the slightest deviation, then you likely left very disappointed.