Tycho is a chilltronica auteur on record, but in performance, he provides something totally different. His set in Bristol this week was one of the most vivid and emotional we’ve seen all year.
The relaxed vibe of Tycho is still there in an at-ease performance with plenty of room for extended jamming. But there is a real emotional payload that comes with it. Scott Hansen was a graphic designer before he was Tycho, and the visuals on display: washed out visuals of oceans, beaches, and the Californian desert blend seamlessly with the quiet optimism of his music.
Tycho’s peak is still the first song of his first album, but his creative output has been sufficiently diverse and consistent to ensure a satisfying set. When that song, ‘A Walk’ gets an early run out, it gets the biggest cheer of the night. As the sunny, spaced-out synth melody flows over the heads of the crowd, projections of cresting waves and the setting sun provide soothing focal abstraction.
The front row is kept entertained in part by one reveller (later confirmed as Big Jeff) who places himself front of centre stage and jams out in the most incredible fashion, with greying afro flying in all directions. He even catches the eye of Hansen himself, who walks onto stage in a dark shirt and white slacks and a haughty expression, looking like someone who could conceivably present Grand Designs.
He casts a few wary glances in his direction, before having some banter with the crowd and confessing a love for the city of Bristol that suggests he’s a sweet guy after all.
There was no slump in the set; it was a fluid, continuous collection of indietronica, given an added kick by the touring musicians, most notably drummer (and opening act) Nitemoves, whose sharp drumming added syncopation and nuance wherever possible.
The set relies heavily 2014 album Awake, including the title track and an extended version of ‘Montana’ in the chorus. However latest Grammy-nominated album Epoch impresses the most, particularly with the dancey flair of ‘Horizon’.
You leave a Tycho concert feeling like you know more about Scott Hansen; his love of travel, the ocean and his home state of California, than you would about any lead vocalist.
It’s the most unexpectedly loaded and passionate performance we’ve seen all year.