Fun fact, on Thursday I learned that you don't have to be asleep to be part of a nightmare. In a word my experience leading up to and at the actual Tycho gig was awful. Keep reading if you’d like to learn why or stop reading and go listen to something good and have a snack. I personally recommend a lightly salted and buttered popcorn accompanied by last year’s release and collab by Karen O and Danger Mouse titled Lux Prima.
The night began hydroplaning towards the Printworks to catch Poolside and Tycho over a terrain that could give the moon’s cratered surface a run for its money. London’s glassed streets resembling more a lens with petroleum jelly smeared over it rather than a driving surface, compounded its dangers as the night and fog filled my visor. Sound dicey? Child’s play compared to being nearly run off the road, twice, by the same driving school car. The worst was yet to come though.
I'd heard of both Poolside and Tycho but neither name held my attention long enough to give them each a proper listen. Recently however I was at Death's door (see White Flower article, and live!) and combing through my inbox. I decided to follow a link from a promoter and listen to Tycho's new album, Simulcast, which made an impression so I sought out catching them live. Upon arrival at the Printworks I'm told I can't park in the car park because that's not what it's used for. I'm then sent to media accreditation where I'm delayed for 20 minutes because they can't find my accreditation and can't use a radio properly to call for assistance. I'm then sent to the guestlist desk where they find my name and send me weaving through four lanes of metal barriers, through a metal detector and finally a pat-down/bag inspection. Hurdles cleared (or so I thought) I shed my wet riding gear, pack it into my bag and head to stage level.
I'm stopped just before mounting the stairs. 'You can't go up there, that bag is too big'. 'Fine' I say, it's a compression bag which I squeeze with mighty hands to the size of a deflated basketball, 'small enough for ya?' I ask. The guard nods but points to our helmets now. Although the Printworks don’t have a helmet policy, or a locker that will fit them, I’m told they must go in. For a fiver. With no liability on their behalf if anything happens to them. For those of you that don’t know a helmet is a life saving device, I argue, and if it’s dropped or hit it’s effectively useless. I'm not comfortable with negotiating it into an ill-fitting receptacle. The guard stands firm saying, I kid you not, I could rob the entire venue if I have this on my person. Furthermore, he asks, 'what if you had a store, would you let someone in holding that thing?!' 'Would I let someone not wearing a helmet into my store after passing through a metal detector and getting thoroughly frisked and searched?' I ask, 'yes'. Security: 'now I know you're lying'. Immune to reason or logic we spend another 15 minutes arguing in circles until I'm brought to management which gladly take the helmet into a locked office I can see, 'my Dad had a helmet and dropped it, he had to buy a new one, I totally get where you're coming from' says probably the first reasonable human being I’ve met at the Printworks that night. It might be worth noting that I’ve never had this issue at any other London venue. Get your shit together Printworks.
With two songs left in their set I catch Poolside. I don't mind because their performance was lacklustre and reeked of an identity crisis. Was it a tween movie soundtrack manifesting itself before me in human form? Was it elevator music? The last song, a new one, was a schizophrenic combination of a '90s zoot suit meets ska train wreck. They went off stage without an encore to the merciful relief of the crowd.
If you hate listening to music, Tycho is the band for you. Harsh, maybe? Unintentionally so however, which is more than I can say for their performance. Tycho is perfect for music’s underachievers; if you don’t like sifting through records with your fingertips lost in the sounds and smells of LPs and 45s you’ve found your musical match! Getting lost down the digital rabbit hole of music’s streaming algorithm not for you? Problem over, Tycho to the rescue. Hearing a tune and popping open Sound Hound to find out more about a song that’s made an impression on you or just even taking a friend’s music suggestion too much hassle? Forget listening to music, Tycho’s on deck and they’re the group for you! You don’t have to get anything and there’s no overthinking it either. It’s just there, like a toilet brush, useful probably but you’re unsure of how it got there or even came to be. Scott Hansen, by night known as Tycho, is a polished and tanned middle aged time traveling Ken doll standing in front of a band, giant projections of landscapes and behind a crescent of six keyboards producing musical sounds. He’s from the future where society’s risen above spontaneity, improvisation and creative music as a whole because they’ve already unlocked the Universe's mysteries. Spoiler alert we blow up. Are they good? Are they bad? I don't know, but I do know is they're just there standing in front of me moving like some sort of animatronic Pirates of the Caribbean or something. Who’d waste 30 quid on such a thing you might be asking yourselves? Good question: let me tell you.
I’m trapped in a sea of fans which are either grunting through burbbling throats that bubble and gurgle up guttural, "tycho, Tycho, TYCHO!" while clenched teeth and tongues twist unnaturally inside their mouths. The scene is more tourettes than cheers of enthusiasm. The sporadic and unpredictable echoes of "Tycho" shouted by fanatics come across as a demented by product of listening to the music instead of enjoying it, an illness like a side effect or nervous tick; a compulsion. I’m at the front and outside of the women, swaying with eyes closed as they’re relentlessly groped and sucked upon by their partners to these horrid beats, everyone is a minimum of 5’11 and taller. The dudes as you’d imagine are the type taking blurred out selfies and are ‘experiencing’ the gig via their phone screens. Nice one, music bro(s).
By song three I was ready to leave but by song six when Hannah Cottrell, aka Saint Sinner came onto the stage blasting us with peace signs, juvenile lyrics and her trout neck tattoo I was ready to PEACE-OUT, and so I did. No small feat mind you, the fanatics would not let me pass, to exit I had to shove, contort and yell at followers just to leave; you'd’ve had an easier time leaving the Church of Scientology. Unfortunately, I could not depart without reprieve, by the exit I got skull fucked one last time. A pair of erotic sentries were facing each other in frozen embrace with at least half a metre between them. Their eyes were closed, mouths open and tongues extended and touching all while remaining completely still. I was as frozen with horror as I was intrigue. Pretty much the grossest thing I’d seen all week, next to Tycho’s performance. I stormed out thinking about just how awkward AF and unsettling an experience I’d had all the way through. Have you ever seen parents kissing their kids on the mouth? Yeah, like that.
I picked up my helmet but not before being accosted by the merch table dude, "Hey mate, you look cold, why not buy a hoody?" I looked at him puzzled, "I’ve walked out halfway through the gig because I couldn’t stand being there any longer and you think I want to commemorate this experience by buy a hoody as a lasting memory?" Perplexed he broke eye contact and I broke outta there.
Leaving was the best part of the experience. It had stopped raining, no crowd and no more Tycho. Don’t get me wrong, put it on in the background, it’s equal to white noise and equally as unobtrusive. The music holds the same weight as a dream and longevity of memory. It’s a corporate gig with generic applications that’re as safe as they are inoffensive, unimaginative and mechanical. This is why we don’t let robots make music, just saying. Can’t say the same about the audience. Fortunately, for you, it was the last show of the tour, so no need to look up dates or ignore my advice and put yourself through a gruelling experience, Musos' got you.