Published Apr 13, 2014Tycho's set at the Hoxton in Toronto focused primarily on his new album, Awake, and featured live instrumentation to complement his electronic tinkering. While the show sounded great and was visually stunning, Tycho (a.k.a. Scott Hansen) came off as oddly small and struggled to fill the room.
The Hoxton was a perfect venue to host an artist like Tycho, with a long, open dance floor, industrial pillars and a large, fine-tuned sound system. Hansen's songs took on new life in this environment, perfectly fleshed out by the speakers and sounding massive to the point of rattling the audience's bones.
Hansen and his backing band performed in front of projections of his own making. As a musician who is equally comfortable as a photographer and designer, Hansen brings a visual element to his music and a musical element to his art. The two complement each other in a way that few artists manage to accomplish, and it's no wonder his songs sound so cinematic, as if each one is a soundtrack for its own movie.
Unfortunately, the Hoxton had a small stage in comparison to its massive bar and dance floor, and the projects looked small behind the musicians on stage. It was by no means a letdown for anyone who paid attention to the visuals, but pay attention we had to, or else it was easy to forget about this crucial element of Tycho's show.
The live guitars brought a nice spontaneous element to the show, and transformed Tycho from a producer on a stage into a rock band in its proper element. The lead lines in songs like "Awake" and "See" sounded more urgent than on record, the spectrum of sound much larger. At other points, though, it seemed as if the band was noodling on their instruments instead of belting out songs, and Tycho's subtle lead melodies were lost in the mix.
Hansen falls somewhat awkwardly between an artist like M83, who forsakes his individuality live and works with a band to produce a sound bigger than the nighttime sky, and Diplo, whose charisma is big enough to fill any venue alone. He sounded almost perfect live — big, clear, and nuanced — but had some trouble making the room his own. The audience was torn between dancing as if they were at a club and watching the band as if they were attending a traditional concert. Tycho did not disappoint, but he might not have made any new fans, either.