Washed Out’s Lofi Wash at the Fine Line

Washed Out performing live in concert at the Fine Line
Washed Out by Benjamin Allen

Last updated on February 12th, 2022 at 05:10 pm

I arrived just as the lights dimmed and the players took the stage. As Earnest Weatherly Greene Jr and his cohort ambled to their respective places, I sought to find mine in the crowd. I wound up with these notes from the show: 

  • Washed Out is a state of mind.
  • Washed Out is Sade on quaaludes.
  • Washed Out makes summer sounds.
  • Their basslines are elating and laid back. It’s as if 80s music were recorded using modern equipment.
  • Washed Out is as hipster as it gets. After all, Portlandia’s theme song is by Washed Out.

Washed Out’s show was exactly what I expected it would be. Just a lovely series of beautiful brain babies played by some earnest dudes. But it was also something I feared. 

I’ve always loathed and loved concerts. I loathe the social anxiety but I use music I love to push myself through the overwhelming discomfort I feel when I walk into a venue.

It gets me through the doors, through the crowds, and holds me there until I’m ready to leave. Music transports me to a place of serenity that is strong enough to combat all but the worst of my anxieties. 

One time that music wasn’t enough was after I’d visited my mom, who’s health was declining due to the cancer wreaking havoc on her body. I visited before leaving for Coachella, and that grief and awfulness stuck with me through some of the best musical moments I ever experienced. 

Another time was at Washed Out at the Fine Line, nearly two years into a pandemic that still wasn’t under control. I thought for sure the lush soundscapes of Washed Out’s music would surely be enough to wrest anxiety’s grip on me. Nope.

Instead of opening up, the walls felt as if they were closing in. Instead of the knot in my chest slowly relenting, it just stayed there in spite of it all. 

Don’t get me wrong, the music was great. It was everything I wanted it to be. I’d been waiting quite a while to see these songs performed live, and I was excited that the day finally came to witness it. 

I didn’t make it long into the show. My chest was heaving, but I felt like I wasn’t getting any oxygen. My heavy breathing forced its way out of my mask and clouded my glasses. As much as I tried to calm down and settle myself, the anxiety pushed back harder.

I couldn’t find a place that felt okay enough to stay in, so after I tried out spots in back, along the side, upstairs and down, I realized that maybe it was too soon for me. Was I going to force myself to stay at a show that I wasn’t enjoying, that I couldn’t even breathe at? What did I hope to accomplish? 

So I left. I felt bad, as I had a job to do at the show. I was supposed to cover it, to glean details from the crowd and the performance, to report back for those who couldn’t make it and provide witness for those who were there.

I wouldn’t wish this kind of anxiety on my worst enemy, but I would wish a Washed Out performance on most everybody else. I’d love to see them again in the future, under better circumstances, not during a pandemic, and likely outdoors.

Written by Ben Allen

I tell the story of the energy transfer between people who play music and that music's listeners. I photograph and write about festivals and concerts, which I've attended for three decades. I'm also the tall guy you probably got stuck behind at a show. First concert: Nirvana at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Dec 1993. Yes, I am old. Tall and old.


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