Photo: Tycho at 2013 Lightning in a Bottle Festival, but he looked very similar at the Fonda last night.
Tycho, the ambient/rock instrumental brainchild of Scott Hansen, played the first of a pair of “pop-up” (e.g., short notice) shows at the Fonda Theatre Thursday evening. The Tycho crowd, sold out here tonight, leans young and diverse, no doubt accruing fans from his EDM association, while not strictly slotting into that genre. Performing as a four-piece – Hansen, synths & guitars; Rory O’Connor, drums; Zac Brown, bass & guitar; Billy Kim, bass & synths—with a sparse stage setup, the show marked the occasion of the surprise drop of Epoch, his fourth full length album a week prior. Pop-up shows and surprise album drops, of course signs of the times in an industry where novelty is not only welcome but increasingly necessary to stand apart in the crowded marketplace.
Photo by Scott Feinbaum for OC Weekly. Full gallery here.
All due respect to Bloc Party/Bob Mould/Ezra Furman who played the actual final show on Sunday, but Sigur Rós brought the Hollywood Bowl’s 2016 season to its crescendo on a warm night this past Saturday, a vindicating sell-out show at the venue they played to a not quite half-full audience a decade prior in 2006.
Performing now as a three-piece – Jonsí Bergisson (vocals/guitar/more), Goggí Holm (bass/more), Orrí Dýrason (drums/keyboards/more) – following the departure of longtime member and primary keyboardist, Kjarri Sveinsson, the Icelandic band carried the whole of the show alone, a marked change from past tours that have included augmentation by several additional backing players on strings and other instrumentation. Clearly there’s a statement of independence and self-reliance about this, with no new album to support, this is a presentation of the band itself, that three of them can and will carry on, even filling a Hollywood Bowl with sound without assistance (admittedly there are samples triggered at times). In fact, their new key photo art is of three of them, face on (if a bit marred with a “melting” effect), in one of the most direct looks we’ve had of the band members in their official imagery, lifting just a bit of the mystery in their aesthetic. That said, once this tour concludes, the three-piece Sigur Rós firmly established, they return to Los Angeles in April 2017 for a series of shows at Walt Disney Hall backed by the LA Phil.
A typically solid, if perhaps not as transcendent as usual and a bit restrained at times, performance by the band divided into two parts with a brief intermission in between, they showcased their signature sound that weaves experimental, “post-rock” (ugh, I know…), ambient and modern classical, going from quiet and intimate sparseness to swelling to the bracingly loud and epic density. Or, rather, should be bracingly loud; on the technical side, the Bowl did not serve their sound as well as might have been hoped. Their dynamics would seem well suited to be amplified the venue (my own fuzzy recollections of that 2005 show are positive – though I may have been too close to the stage to be objective) but the volume Saturday was simply too low; Jonsí’s bowed electric guitar never quite reaching those volcanic sonic peaks, the occasional toy piano plonking lost in the sea of glass clanking and chomping picnickers. All told, it did not necessarily make for the immersive audio/visual experience that Sigur Rós is known for.
Radiohead brought down the curtain in grand fashion on their California jaunt of their brief A Moon Shaped Pool tour–a headlining set up north at Outside Lands festival, bracketed by a pair of relatively intimate shows here at the Shrine Auditorium, the second of which took place this past Monday evening.
The beloved iconic English act have always had a special relationship with L.A., dating back to their early days on Capitol Records, going on to record music here, play epic Hollywood Bowl shows (and one famous tiny charity concert), frontman Thom Yorke basing his Atoms for Peace project here and occasionally spotted at one of the hipper electronic music nights around town. Add to this the fact that tickets to the shows for this modest sized venue (capacity just over 6,000, compared to about three times that for the NYC shows at MSG two weeks ago) were incredibly difficult to come by, the jammed on-sale back in March causing a minor ripple of outrage across online channels (Yorke himself expressing frustration at the time) and it was all but expected that the band would bring a little something extra to the this pair of shows.
Photo by Sung. Full set here.
A mild Summer evening treat, The National passed through town not on any particular album tour cycle, performing to a sold out Greek Theatre Thursday. (They’ll also trek north to that other Greek Theatre in Berkeley.) The stalwart American 5-piece by now cuts a familiar shape on stage – the Dessner twins, Bryce and Aaron, on guitars at either side, the Devendorf brothers, Scott and Bryan, the rhythm section at center, and singer Matt Beringer, either pacing the width of the stage or hunched over and clamped down two-handed on mic, plus a pair of brass and keyboard players at the back filling out the sound.
Live, The National, render their elegant slow simmer rock – lucid guitar lines, intricate drum patterns, Beringer’s imagist, often rueful lyrics crooned in his baritone – faithfully, adding just enough fire over the recorded versions. Drawing mostly from their last two albums for 4AD, High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me, as well as a healthy dose of new material, they pulled an uncommon amount of reverence from an audience that pounced on tickets to the quick selling show (their followers have expanded to well beyond the expected stylish, bookish faithful to bring in the casual fan, the curious, some of whom cannot shut up for five minutes during the quieter ones). Overall, there’s a nice near-equal appreciation for the more rocking louder ones – “Sea of Love”, “Terrible Love”, “Squalor Victoria” – as well as the quieter ones – “Sorrow”, “I need my girl”, a show ending unamplified acoustic “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” sing along.
Photo by Sung
Their very name, their album art – photos referencing art and archeological artifacts, framed with stark serifed text – and oblique song titles – “Alta,” “Vesta,” “Onsra,” for example – may give off a sort of sterility or coldness, but in fact there’s a comfort and warmth, even a playfulness, to the pop of Fear of Men, even more so live, as evidenced at their show Sunday night at The Echo.
Fear of Men | fearofmen.co.uk