Plush couldn’t have been a more perfect venue for San Francisco-based electronic mastermind Tycho’s
first visit to St. Louis. Relatively small, but still offering room to breathe freely and move between two levels, the space flaunts the juxtaposition of exposed brick walls and new staging, brightly colored lights, and the dim, shabby chandeliers. Plush’s ambience matched the group’s technicolor visuals and aural dreamscapes. Waves and cymbals crashed simultaneously, the colors projected on the artists as well as the wall, bouncing from light fixture to light fixture. Glorious.
Before that all happened, though, electronic act Onuinu, the project of Portland’s Dorian Duvall, tipped things off with his funky brand of “disco-hop.” Despite the difficulty caused by a few technical problems with the computer at his feet, Duvall’s enthusiastic chatter with the crowd effortlessly filled the gap. The live addition of keys and guitar helped free the upbeat melodies of “Ice Palace” and “Happy Home” from their recorded layers of reverb and distortion, as Duvall’s voice rang clear and on-pitch, ultimately providing the definite highlight of the set. Onuinu’s upcoming full-length is bound to be a good one, and, who knows, it may even include instructions on how to pronounce the name correctly.
About 30 minutes later, Tycho’s Scott Hansen, joined by a bassist/guitarist and one exceptional drummer, took the stage. Seeing electronic music performed with a live band is always a nice break from the predictable-if-not-inescapable “guy with a laptop” setup of modern music. For Tycho, it worked especially well, as the band seamlessly performed tracks off last year’s Dive. The pulsing live drums injected energy into the set with demands of dancing, taking the crowd out of its hazy wonderland, most notably on setlist standout “Coastal Brake”. Though the mixing was a bit bass-heavy, the levity of the dreamy melodies wasn’t completely lost.
A surprise early appearance of “A Walk” worked to Hansen’s advantage, bringing to life a then dormant audience, and oldie “PBS” popped up at the end to great reception. The set’s main highlight, however, was the encore, when Hansen returned alone to perform a brand new song. Toying with heavier synths and a hint of hip-hop beats, the track he “finished last weekend” showed stellar potential for upcoming material. All in all, a solid first impression for St. Louis, and odds are he’ll be back soon.