Tycho mastermind, Scott Hansen played their first of close to a dozen SXSW related shows Tuesday March 13 at the Mohawk. Photo: Angela H. Brown
"Stare at the ceiling and think" kinda music. I don't smoke weed or eat mushrooms, so that's what Tycho does for me––provides a nice soundtrack to dive deep into my brain and untangle the kinks. Of course, there's not a whole lot of intimate ceiling time when you're at a live show, so I wasn't quite sure what seeing Tycho on stage was going to be like.
I walked into the Mohawk and was immediately … accosted … by portraits of bearded men. Like super cheesy, framed photos of those guys who enter beard contests. I could probably write a few paragraphs on the venue's intentionally (?) horrific decor, but let's move on to Tycho.
I knew next to nothing on the background of the band before seeing them play. Their latest release, Dive, has been a favorite at the SLUG office, so they were one of the first to make my SXSW "must-see" list. Tycho is the brainchild of San Francisco based artist Scott Hansen, who goes by ISO50, but he was joined on stage for his live sets with two more musicians on bass and drums. All of the sequencing was done live, and he even strapped on a guitar once or twice while working the many pedals and keys surrounding him (can you tell I'm not a musician?). I loved that he had a live drummer most of all. I've seen electronic/ambient acts playe completely from a Macbook before, and though I understand that it takes talent to coordinate all of the sounds coming out of a computer, at a live show, it's just lazy. Plus, the drums seemed to breathe life into Tycho, like a beating heart set back behind all the nerves and muscles (literally, these guys were buff).
A video was also being projected behind the band, which was put together by Hansen and was very demonstrative of his style as an artist: a lot of pretty girls in '60s/'70s garb, arctic explorers and rainbows, all in vintage hues. I'm not always a fan of video projections, just 'cause I don't like being told how to feel about the music—I like to just hear and let my mind make the visual connections—but I had my eyes closed most of the time anyway, and everyone else was really digging it.
I should also mention that I saw Tycho play twice––that's how impressed I was the first time. I hit up the Terrorbird Party at Red 7 the following day, and stuck around to see their set again. Though they were nearly flawless, Tycho's definitely a band you want to see at night, somewhere intimate. There just wasn't the right kind of vibe in the early afternoon to get into them the way I wanted to. Plus, the projection wasn't really working 'cause the screen was too low, and even though I'm not always stoked on video accompaniment, it made for a nice backdrop if nothing else.
These guys have been playing all week long, and I'm happy I caught them twice. Hopefully they'll hit up SLC so I can zone out to their soundscapes a third time!