Tycho Was Well Worth the Wait at Grand Central

Tycho performs at the Ogden Theatre in Denver.
Tycho performs at the Ogden Theatre in Denver.
Photo by Julio Enriquez via Flickr cc

I — along with many in last night's diverse Grand Central crowd — have been waiting years to see Tycho, AKA ISO50, AKA Scott Hansen. Fusing art and music in ways few can, Tycho's look and sound are instantly recognizable. The San Francisco artist's live show is a trip into his imagination.

At this point in its history, Tycho is a full on live band. But it all started as Scott Hansen’s solo electronic music project that released its first album, Sunrise Projector, in 2004. It has grown slowly but steadily since then. Hansen is also a visual artist who designs all his own graphics, tour posters, live visuals, and T-shirts. His two loves — art and music — have grown together and remain symbiotic. The ISO50 store sells premium “studio edition” prints anywhere from $20 to more than $100. 

It's tough to pin down Tycho's sound. It's mostly instrumental, mostly downtempo, and atmospheric. To me, this is headphone music. It’s personal. It’s the music we drift off to on an afternoon at the beach. Seeing Grand Central so full last night showed just how open-minded this city can be to new and different styles of music.

Autograf did a “Live PA Set” in which one member moved among the xylophone, keyboards, and drums while one triggered the tracks along with some effects. The sound itself was huge and gorgeous, with thick atmosphere underneath and one shining melody stacked on top of another. Autograf ran through its recent remixes and original records, weaving it into one seamless, impressive set. 

Autograf at Grand Central.
Autograf at Grand Central.
Photo by Adam Foster

The crowd waited through a (much-too-long) 45-minute break before Tycho started. But once the show did start, the lighting and backdrop came to life. The band spent the rest of the set drenched in images that Scott designed, photographed, or filmed. The sound and the visuals matched perfectly, washed out in the California sun, with beautiful imagery alongside even more beautiful sounds.

Tycho played its show together as a four-piece band, with Scott leading on keys and effects. His band included an incredible guitar player, bass player, and drummer. Every note was on point. The crowd smiled and drifted off, puffs of smoke in the air and bodies moving with the music. Some danced, but most just watched, stayed quiet, and smiled. The set list did not differ much from Tycho's latest album, but who cares? With music like this, it’s not the individual songs that you remember. It’s the feeling the performance gives you. 

And that feeling was something special. 

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