The venue’s facade was bright and fairly minimalist, with white walls and a simple entrance. Inside, we were surprised to hear techno pumping out of the solid sound system in front of us. I looked around, noting the royal blue walls decorated by gold baroque detailing; the interior felt both modern and antiquated. Two tiers of balconies encompassed the dance floor and stage, giving a vaudeville vibe. We learned that the source of the techno was Heathered Pearls (Jakub Alexander), who was opening for Tycho. The two have a close working relationship: both are signed to Ghostly International, with Jakub doing A+R for them too, all while managing Tycho, and curating his artwork on the ISO50 blog (Tycho’s moniker as an artist). His set was neat and built nicely, injecting some movement into the audience. He joked to the fledgling crowd about permitting him to play techno at 8pm, before introducing Tycho and leaving.
The mood rose in response, as the stalls steadily filled up with people. Brought closer to the stage by the influx, the familiar gig funk of stale beer and farts began to emanate from the spectators. As you would expect for IDM, a label I hesitate to use for its pretentious connotations, the crowd was mostly male and bespectacled, but there was still an interesting mix of styles – from new wave dreadlocks on my left, to close fades and muscle shirts on my right.
Tycho (Scott Hansen), has been accompanied by a full band on tour since 2010, including Zac Brown on guitar and bass, Rory O’Connor on drums, and Joe Davancens on bass guitar and keyboard. After a brief introduction, the band launched into their set. Beginning with the grungier, bass and drum heavy, new album, Epoch, they worked backward through their discography. Stand out tracks included Awake, Dive and Past is Prologue, the titular tracks from their respective albums. Scott credited Roni Size and the Bristol Drum & Bass scene as musical influences for Past is Prologue, his “first attempt at Drum & Bass”. Much praise is due for Rory’s heroic effort on drums. Tycho’s vision as ISO50 was felt throughout the performance, with a video backdrop showing scenes of natural beauty, family, ceremony, and the female form, an often-double exposed waking dream. It felt like insight was given into the nature of the band, with the reverse chronological movement from their latest album to their eldest contrasting the musical development of each successive release. As each track ended, the spell over the crowd would be broken and voices would bubble up around us. Truly an immersive audiovisual experience.