After a hazy day at Wreck Beach, Tycho’s live set was as soothing as aloe vera on my sunburnt face. San Francisco-based electronic musician and graphic designer Scott Hansen combined his two passions to create a synesthetic live experience.
As dusky colours drifted in from the Electric Owl’s windows, the warm swirling synthscapes of “Adrift” followed as lush, warm-toned scenes of deserts, oceans and clouds were projected behind the three-piece band. With a nostalgic synth riff leading into a powerful bass drop over a kicking rhythm, the track played as a solid introduction to the live band embodiment of Tycho. In contrast to the sun-dipped atmosphere carried throughout their fourth album Dive, the band followed-up with the title track from the preceding Past is Prologue, its spine-chilling sounds transforming into a trance-like IDM beat. As the compositions flowed in gently, melodic voices carried a drifting narrative that attuned for the absence of words.
Despite the challenging task of transforming their recorded music into an engaging live setting, the materialization of Hansen’s compositions succeeded in reproducing the crisp textures found in the albums while giving it a stronger kick. The visuals created a focal point for the audience, who for the most part stood nodding, eyes wide open transfixed on the stage. Drummer Rory O’Connor, also of Com Truise, helped give upbeat cuts like “PBS” a danceable edge without overpowering its subtle textural appeal.
Active Child, the electronic project by Pat Grossi, followed with a contrasting set up, the stage curiously adorned with laptops, MIDI controllers, a harp, twin Greek statues, and a sea of theatrical fog. The dramatic setting begged the music to follow suit, with deep-hitting R&B laying the framework for Grossi’s powerful, ethereal voice.
His unique vocals—undoubtedly influenced by a childhood spent in choirs—paired with his harp, gave the act an exotic edge, and dynamics that ebbed and flowed between lyrical verses and climactic hooks, especially during “Hanging On.”
In the end, even the theatrical air of the show and the cornucopia of fog couldn’t conceal the rough edges where electronic instrumentation and Grossi’s talented musicianship and vocals meet.