KEXP at Iceland Airwaves, Day 1: Blouse

photos by Jim Bennett

Portland shoegaze band Blouse have been on an awesome upwards trajectory for the past year, and if you’ve spent any amount of time with KEXP, you know we’ve got a thing for these guys. After dropping their debut on Captured Tracks last year, Blouse has been playing shows like mad and showcasing their unique sound as much as possible. Tunes like “Into Black” have a perfect balance of pop accessibility and spaced out splendor, and as the shoegaze of the late 80s continues to come into vogue, Blouse couldn’t be in a better place. Their songs adapt to the live setting wonderfully and their quiet but haunting stage presence is a perfect match for their sound.

The crowd at KEX Hostel was a barely smaller for Blouse’s set, but no less enthusiastic. Their set began with “Firestarter,” a densely layered song interspersed with sharp 80′s Cure-esque synths. Though singer-guitarist Charlie Hilton’s tone is ennui-heavy, it would be difficult to not be drawn in by her dreamy chants of “love isn’t hard.”

The set grew more lively during Blouse’s second song, “Time Travel.” Spacey synths and a heavy drum beat got the crowd moving. No one had been drinking quite enough beer to facilitate mid-afternoon dancing, but heads were bobbing and toes were definitely tapping. The audience began to fill in during “Video Tapes,” a dreamy, drum-heavy track with haunting vocals lending a hint of Halloween-appropriate spookiness to the broadcast. Blouse finished their set with “Shadow,” a bass-heavy song with an optimistic feel, and “Into Black,” with more foreboding music contrasting beautifully with Hilton’s airy vocals.

Tilbury are on next at 10AM PST/5PM GMT (though rumor has it they may be a little late!)

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