Tycho (photo: Jon Bauer)
Previous Tycho performances have taken place in the Bay Area, with the most recent two each at the Fox Theater, less than a month a part. In October, Tycho was one of the final performances of the 10th Treasure Island Music Festival, days after the release of Tycho’s fourth studio album, Epoch.
The album was nominated for the Best Dance/Electronic Album of the year less than two months later, preceding an impromptu performance on December 16 in coalition with Oakland United, a response to the devastating Ghost Ship fire.
During Saturday night’s performance, Hansen addressed the crowd and asked how many had been in attendance for the Oakland United show, and spent a moment reflecting on his gratitude for the thriving independent music scene that made the evening possible.
That gratitude for Northern California is what Hansen credits wtih his sweeping sonic compositions, and he goes in-depth about it in a recent interview with Outside Magazine. It is clear in just listening, though, that he loves giving back to the community he came from, even if it is a warm-up for an early 2017 with Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Poland, the UK, and nearly everywhere in between — the next US dates aren’t until BUKU Music + Art Festival in New Orleans and Coachella, respectively.
But Hansen and his three bandmates — drummer Rory O’Connor, bassist/guitarist Zac Brown, and bassist/keyboardist/synth engineer Billy Kim — are clearly excited about Epoch, the conclusion to a musical trilogy that began with 2011’s Dive. It wasn’t until after the completion of Dive that Hansen enlisted live band support on the regular, but with every performance they get closer to a more uniform meshing of the intimate and ethereal potential of electronic music with the energy of a live performance.
On Saturday, they opened with three tracks from Epoch, beginning at 9:21pm with “Glider,” “Division,” and finally “Rings” before they dipped into Awake with “Spectre.” The crowd was dancing, several of them having reached interplanetary appreciation of the sound before the band even took the stage. It wasn’t until the fifth song in the set, however, that the crowd appeared to truly recognize as a whole what Tycho was throwing at them.
“A Walk,” the opening track from the chillwave cult favorite Dive elicted the largest response since the lights went down and they took the stage. Tycho continued to move back down the number line with “Daydream,” also from Dive, and even further to the debut studio album Past Is Prologue for two tracks: “PBS” and the title track, an old-school drum machine track with super-tight drumming fills and an up-tempo melody fit for an early Sega rendition of Sonic the Hedgehog or Moon Racer video game.
“Local,” “Apogee,” and “Dive” opened up the second half of the evening with a much more varied pace, and bounced from Epoch to Awake to Dive, respectively. After playing the title track off Dive, Tycho closed the set with the tile tracks “Awake” and “Epoch,” sandwiching “Horizon,” the lead single off the latter disc, between them.
At 10:40pm, Tycho returned to the stage for a three-song encore that span the most recent two releases. “Reciever” and “Source” mark the seventh and eighth tracks from the 11 new tracks that could have been played off of Epoch, and the show closed with “Montana,” ending just before 11pm.
One of the most exciting parts of the live Tycho experience comes from watching the projections of Hansen’s ISO50 artwork, video, and photography. Multiple layers of superimposed images, negatives, and filters blend to create surreal imagery and before you realize it, the landscape has literally changed to give the audience a bird’s-eye view of the Grand Canyon, the Tetons, or Everest.
Opening the evening were the glitch-hop and dream wave sounds of Nitemoves. A one-man DJ project ran by Tycho’s drummer, O’Connor, Nitemoves demonstrated clear and patient skills in his control and build of his drops and mixing levels. He was able to produce Passion Pit-esque vocals with similarly bright and upbeat tempos that never felt too rushed. In fact, about 18 minutes into his set, Nitemoves orchestrated a time-warp effect and bled everything back together, one tone and one beat at a time, for the highlight of his set.