Swept in along with Chicago’s first heavy snow were two of electronic music’s finest, Active Child and Tycho. Both acts transformed Chicago’s Lincoln Hall from blissful cathedral to ambient nebulous-inspired radiation. Although the dismay of winter waited outside the venue’s doors, inside lay a night of warm, wholehearted music. Active Child, project of LA native and singer-songwriter/harpist Pat Grossi, commanded attention with his awe-inducing choirboy vocals whilst Tycho, the San Francisco-based project of beatsmith Scott Hansen, provided a show for the senses—rife with visual projections of summer sunsets and surf life under an amber-lit sky.
With previous coursework including 2009’s Curtis Lane EP and last year’s debut LP You Are All I See, we’ve far from seen the last of Grossi. His music is almost as cosmically beautiful as his breathtaking voice. The all-too-brief 45-minute setlist showcased Grossi’s ear for emotional dancefloor fodder as well as choral arrangements. And, of course, his vocal range: Grossi’s resonant baritone and falsetto chops are a force to be reckoned with. One of the evening’s highlights was when Grossi modestly showed off a new harp that he was playing midway through his performance, stating that it was a Christmas present he bought for himself. It sounded just as pristine as the pearly gates. The reverb and occasional delay was even more striking in a live setting than on record. New Order, an obvious reference point for Grossi, would be proud.
Grossi modestly showed off a new harp that he was playing midway through the performance, stating that it was a Christmas present he bought for himself.
Headlining act Tycho opened with a confident rendition of “A Walk” from Dive, their latest LP. The hour-long performance rested on the sonic allure on the guitar and keyboards, which was done with such an alchemy that the audience could not help but be mesmerized. Joining leader Scott Hansen was bassist Zac Brown, whose proficiency at times outshone Hansen himself.
As Tycho ran through the last song of the night, “Elegy”, a sense of satisfaction filled the room. Between Grossi’s gorgeous harp-playing and Hansen’s ability to cultivate a stream of dense, dark melodies, the night was a treat for the eyes and ears. The event made the Chicago snowstorm just a bit more tolerable, no matter how brutal the winds outside. Inspiring and (literally) insulating, these Bay Area artists did Chicago an immense favor by shedding a little California light on a white-blanketed city.