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Tycho at Fitzgerald's, 4/29/2014

Tycho, Gardens & Villa Fitzgerald's April 29, 2014

"Going to a concert" means different things to different people. For some it's a chance for emotional catharsis, for others it's an excuse to dance, and for others it's a chance to hear that one song they like on the radio. That's one of the joys of art: we all experience it differently.

Going to see an instrumental act like Tycho is almost like seeing a different type of art altogether. Sure, you still feel the bass in your chest and it's still a night of strangers staring at a stage together, but it doesn't have the typical hook (i.e. lyrics) that bonds those strangers together. Even in the realm of instrumental music Tycho are a different beast, given their lack of virtuosity (i.e. over-the-top guitar solos).

It makes for an interesting night and a different experience, but one that still allows each individual to get the experience he or she is looking for.

(Writer's Note: For the purposes of this review I'll be writing about Tycho as a four-piece band instead of a one man act that happens to have four touring members. It's going to make things a lot easier for you and me.)

Tycho don't command your attention. The music isn't the type that reaches out and grabs you by the throat and forces you to listen. It's good, but given the lack of vocals it can easily turn to background noise if you're not a big fan.

That said, Tycho have gotten real good at what they do. Saying that they've matured would be a bit overdramatic, but it may be the best way to describe how things have evolved since they last came to town. Their videos are a bit better, the stage setup is a bit more engaging, and best of all they sound more like a real band than a group of guys playing songs that one guy wrote.

While all the members of the group were on point, Rory O'Connor gets bonus points for being a mini-Danny Carey in the sense that he's a very talented drummer who does amazing things behind a kit while making it look effortless and almost uninteresting. He's the engine that makes the music, new and old alike, sound so fresh.

The decision to play in front of projections is one of those things that's a total no brainer for instrumental acts, and Tycho gives a viewer a lot to unpack visually. The videos are striking, but they lead to a lot of questions:

  • Are the repeated uses of circles inside triangles a reference to the Illuminati?
  • Are the clips from Holy Mountain used during "Spectre" hold a deeper meaning or just something someone thought would look cool?
  • Is the girl wandering the desert in many of the clips just out for a relaxing walk? Has she been stranded on an alien world? Did she take a wrong turn inside a dog park only to end up on a world that is not unlike this one but is definitely not this one?

Like I said, we all experience art differently.

Review continues on the next page.

Some stand and listen and watch and ponder silly questions. Some give their entire body over to the music, dancing with almost reckless abandon. Some nod, smile, then go back to trying to figure out the right Instagram filter to use on the photo they took so everyone knows they were at the show.

And that's fine. The fact that Tycho goes out on stage and present their art and lets the audience decide how invested in it they are is a welcome change from the multitude of bands who fall back on concert clichés to get the crowd in to a show. It shows way more confidence in the music than an hour of begging the crowd to make some noise.

Of course, I'm just one person having one experience, so your mileage may vary.

Personal Bias: I kind of hate the fact that Scott Hansen is talented enough to write a song as perfect as "Adrift" and then not play it live.

The Crowd: A sold out crowd of all sorts, from tie-dye to derby fabulous, to those balancing books on their head, to that one guy on the balcony listening to his headphones in between acts.

Overheard in the Crowd:

Girl: "So you rape people?" Boy: "No... well... with my words."

Random Notebook Dump: Typically after a show I listen to Tycho on my drive home as a way to relax and refresh my ears. What will I listen to tonight?

So, How Was the Opener: Although I missed most of their set, I heard enough of Gardens & Villa to want to check out more of their stuff. They were the perfect five piece indie band with singers to open up a Tycho show.

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