Pillbox

Tycho creates ethereal atmosphere

Scott Hansen (Tycho) performed at the Shadow Lounge last Thursday. (credit: Patrick Gage Kelley/Co-Publisher) Scott Hansen (Tycho) performed at the Shadow Lounge last Thursday. (credit: Patrick Gage Kelley/Co-Publisher)

“Ennui” is a word that means an endless boredom, a state that sets in as you begin to believe you will never be interested in anything ever again. It is also a local band, Thursday’s first opener, which played a short set while the Shadow Lounge filled with people escaping the blowing snow of Pittsburgh winter. Ennui was actually quite good, and people didn’t seem bored to tears. Rather, the crowd largely ignored the first opener as those in attendance deposited their coats in the Blue Room and ordered drinks from the bar.

Stage rearranged, Beacon began. The audience didn’t visibly react, but people were listening: The music was pretty loud and it was a small space. Beacon’s set was a non-event. The highlight was the group’s last song, a cover of Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night,” excerpted and stretched to become nearly unrecognizable. It was perfect, but I am not convinced the audience really got it. The group distorted a pop song that most of the people in the room likely looked down upon until it was nearly unidentifiable.
Tycho took the stage after Beacon, beginning immediately as the audience moved past its unflappable behavior into loud cheers. They were here to see him. Tycho played synths, keyboard, laptop, and occasionally guitar. There were no vocals. He was accompanied by Zac Brown on bass and guitar and Rory O’Connor on drums. The show was really centered around Tycho and the visuals he created, which were projected behind the band.

The projected video presentation brought the show together. The visuals were largely abstract, almost ephemeral. Sky and seascapes with the occasional girl staring into the camera were brought in and out of focus, oversaturated with added lens flares and flashes of magenta and yellow. There was also a clear fetish for natural particle systems: Flocks of birds and the embers of a fire were overlaid in the video. The entire picture was often warped to be kaleidoscopic.

The visuals didn’t tell a story, but they were part of the environment that Tycho was creating. And they were his own. Tycho is the musical stage name of Scott Hansen, whose other alias is ISO50, a graphic designer and visual artist and the creator of the stylized visuals that back his musical persona.

With visual artist Scott Hansen and musician Scott Hansen together, it was quite a show. The audience cheered at the end of nearly every song. The smooth, almost ambient, electronic music was performed in large part identically to the studio versions, only intensified by the live performance.

The place was a sea of hipsters: There were more men than women, wearing a spectrum of dark colors, flannels and beanies, thick scarves, thick plastic glasses, and sporting facial scruff. Most of the room refused to do more than sway, and a few people at the front were dancing like they were at a different concert entirely.

Drinks were served, the visual show went on, several members of Tycho’s team filmed the event, a few people soldiered on with their wild dancing, a girl on her cell phone kept nearly knocking over the monitor, Tycho played “Elegy” to close the set, and the crowd headed back out into the snow.