I can’t think of a better way to welcome in the spring than with a Tycho concert. For an artist whose brand of dreamy electronica combined with a west coast vibe elicits images of sandy beaches and surfing, there really are few acts that can bring in the elated joy the first days of spring evoke. It was an especially lukewarm spring day, a slight breeze coasting by the car as my friend and I headed out towards The Crofoot, sharing e-cigs and jamming out to some downtempo IDM. When we arrived at the parking structure, I caught a glance at a sunset, looking like an exact match of Dive’s album cover in a moment of coincidental beauty. It seemed as if the entirety of Spring was pointing towards a wonderful concert experience.
A Washington, D.C. based duo called Gems opened up the performance, a band who I had heard nothing of prior to seeing them live. At first I was pleasantly surprised; the band’s first couple songs had an explosive energy firmly grounded in pop writing sensibilities with tinges of shoe-gaze. The band has only put out a short 4-song EP and a couple other singles so their performance was rather short. For a lot of artists on tour with someone as prolific as Tycho this would be a good thing, but unfortunately for Gems, few of their songs were really able to keep my attention. There were moments of brilliance to be sure, and it’s maddening that a band with such potential is constantly wallowing in boring bridges made of semi-interesting bass patterns with the occasional effects-pedal-heavy guitar chord. When the band hits a climactic moment it’s golden. It’s getting there that’s the problem; too many of their songs could do with cutting down on length. If the duo feels the necessity to keep the songs the way they are, then the guitarist needs to play with greater confidence. This may very well be a problem of not having enough stage experience but it’s difficult to get invested in a song when half the guitar parts are nearly inaudible or in stark contrast to louder sections.
Tycho, on the other hand, was on point the moment he came on stage. The band wasted no time in getting right into their set which kicked off with a couple songs off Dive and their newest album Awake. As a full-fledged band the biggest difference I heard to Tycho’s sound was how much more punctual each section of an individual song became. The snare hits were that much more immediate and the subtler cymbal flares had a much more encompassing sound overall than what the studio albums indicate. In a similar vein the actual feel of the bass guitar, literally the vibrations from being so damn close to the speakers, gave a very cool tangible sensation to Tycho’s sound. Coupled with some excellent visual programming that included picturesque video clips of surfing, color pallets swaps of the “Awake” and “Montana” single covers, and even a cool nod to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain set to “Spectre,” the live experience was nothing less than sublime. If you’re a big fan of chillwave music in general, you owe it to yourself to see these guys perform.
Just a fair warning, be sure to grab tickets quick cause they will sell out.