San Francisco’s Scott Hansen is no stranger to the electronic music scene. Along with taste-makers the likes of Washed Out, Toro y Moi and Neon Indian, the forty two year-old producer has been credited as one of the main pioneers of the late naughties American Chillwave movement, and of which his 2007 debut (aptly named ‘The Daydream’) places his tenure squarely over the two-decade mark. With the addition of slick visuals and the recently released ‘Weather’ EP’s feature vocalist Saint Sinner comes together one of the tightest sideshow’s this side of Splendour, showcasing expertly that this established producer very much still chooses to innovate.
It’s ironic that the night should kick off with the iconic ‘A Walk’ from his 2011 viral LP ‘Dive’. The many house lights of the Forum Theatre dim and the audience is greeted with nought but a minute-long awkward silence, only after which the quartet that comprises Tycho’s live band takes the stage and only then, like an estranged relative awkwardly awaiting to be greeted, do we receive any sort of introduction. It isn’t a gesture that is in and of it’s own insulting, but one that lacks the proper etiquette expected of an act of such a high calibre. A more deliberate introduction to what would become a seventy-five minute transaction between the group and the audience would have helped curb a trend that unfortunately continues into the night. Instead, with little to no obvious thought placed in the curation of the setlist, song order or transitions between the pieces performed, the audible conversations of various patrons only confirm that an artist known primarily for lulling his audience into a trance sadly fails to properly hypnotize for more than the duration of a single track at a time.
There is a silver lining though, as this does allow some breathing room between tracks, something confidently capitalized upon by Hansen himself. On occasion, we are provided small glimpses of insight into how 2019’s ‘Weather’ and its accompanying live show came to be. These unique exchanges are a definite highlight of the night as we are provided incredible value with otherwise unattainable glimpses into the process of the band’s recording’s, rehearsals and perhaps most impressive of all – art direction. It is most clear here from the backdrop of warm pastel’s and iconic geometry of Tycho album art Hansen’s previous occupation as a graphic designer.
Even still, it does seem a missed opportunity that the live band itself shows very little in the way of theatrics in their performance overall. The exchange of a smirk here or there does very little to impact the overall straight expression and delivery of each member, and the lack of unifying clothing, makeup or aesthetic only serves to detract from the cohesiveness of the band. In any situation, for an act that is predominantly billed as electronic it’s integral that the high-fidelity of perfect, studio quality recordings substituted in favour of a live band must be purposefully capitalized upon. Hearing the introduction of a crowd favourite raises anticipation to such a degree that to be met only by the anaemic omission of the pristine kick drum, snare and rhythm that the studio recordings are revered for serves to be somewhat anti-climactic.
It must be said that the act really came into their own by the end the night. Half the band re-take the stage to appease a cheering crowd with nothing but the intimacy of themselves, a couple of bar stools, and just as many guitars. We are serenaded by the vocals of Hannah Cottrell once more in a welcome change of pace before the three are immediately rejoined by the remaining members and, along with some incredible strobe work, finally launch into the climactic title track ‘Awake’ from 2014’s LP of the same title. It is with this that Hansen and his band exemplify best their incredible versatility in the face of such genre stereotypes, and why Tycho ultimately manage to punctuate the night with an exclamation, if even only occasionally so.