The North Park Theater should take the time to brag just a little bit more. The one-of-a-kind building is a historic 1920s gem that has survived both fleeting and enduring conceptualizations over it’s long existance as the surrounding neighborhood has evolved.The most recent news is big news. This past summer the theater, under new ownership, was tugged and tweaked giving it a much needed face lift and expanded it’s capacity by over 25% now able to host 1,100 guests at capacity.
What this means for us, the San Diego music fans: new epic music. With the increased capacity, new ownership and a partnership with Tim Mays, the owner and booking agent for The Casbah, there has been a huge improvement in the amount and type of musical talent that is being directed to San Diego.
As far as venues go, San Diego has some great finds, but all come with limitations. The Casbah, although a great space, is small with a 220 person capacity. Next in line is the major House of Blues venue in downtown which holds over 1,000 people at capacity, but is owned by Live Nation and has a limited selection of performers. Sleep Train Ampitheatre in Chula Vista is an 18,000 person venue and requires big names to fill the numerous seats. San Diego for this reason seems to be overlooked by many amazing acts that can’t find the appropriate space to host their adoring fans.
This charming new space in central North Park off University Avenue seems to be a perfect solution and fans couldn’t agree more. Since the renovations, the venue has begun to book major acts like Lykke Li and Liars who sold out shows in advance. This month The New Pornographers, Warpaint and Cut Copy are all on the schedule and are promising full audiences.
On that note, Washed Out was booked for Thursday night at the North Park Theatre. As expected, the show sold out in advance, fans show up in stoked droves of nineties-inspired hipsters and the organization was seamless.
The set began with a bang and as the lights dimmed, the roar of the audience rose. Fans cheered and whipped out their camera phones with excitment to capture the first waves of buzzing synthesizers. The build up of drama as Washed Out fell into their first song was marked with intensity as the smoke machines and glowing stage lights highlighted the silhouttes of the band. Matched with impeccable timing, the lights flew into a frenzy in sync to the erupting music.
The show progressed without a glitch and lead singer Ernest Greene was charming and endearing in his stage presence. Greene used his energy to get the audience riled up into fits of whistles and cheers. He even mentioned that it had been a few years since their last visit to San Diego and we had “stepped up” our game. The enthusiasm was mutual.
By the end of the night the audience was enveloped in a sway of dance as it seemed everyone was on the same level, rolling like a wave. Favorite tracks were played including “New Theory” and “Feel it All Around.” When the set ended, all five members disappeared behind the stage and waited for the cheering audience to seduce them back out for a customary encore which happily involved two additional songs.
The night was easily defined as a success. Were there things that could have gone smoother, of course. However, a pleasant space with consuming music should never be underrated. Washed Out brought their ‘A’ game and created an ambiance of feel good energy.