Stopping off in the Bay Area between appearances at both weekends of Coachella, alt-J and Tycho drew a sold-out Fauxchella crowd to U.C. Berkeley’s Greek Theatre this past Friday. Epic weather and one of the most gorgeous venues in Northern California provided the perfect “mise en scene” for the aurally encapsulating bill.
An early crowd that filled the venue to near capacity arrived to witness something quite special, as hometown favorites Tycho opened the night’s festivities. Playing a set that both the band and its fans have anxiously anticipated since the gig was announced in February, Tycho stole the show with their sumptuous production of ambient soundscapes and visual projections.
With the quartet on what undoubtedly was the largest tour it has ever been a part of, Tycho frontman Scott Hansen took a moment to address the fact that it was the most meaningful show and best crowd that they had ever played in front of to date. In not only making their hometown proud, Tycho also crossed another milestone off their bucket list by performing at a venue that the band members grew up frequenting and only dreamed of getting the chance to play at one day.
Riding off the crowd’s euphoria, alt-J took the stage for a powerful headlining set. The Leeds-based indie rockers emulated what one would expect to see if they were in a festival setting, bringing with them their full-scale production and pulling hits from both their 2012 debut and critically acclaimed sophomore album This Is All Yours. Despite alt-J’s massive sound and incredible light show, the crowd remained a bit subdued during their set.
The 2012 Mercury Prize winners echoed a semblance to that of Sigur Rós or Volcano Choir, leaving audience members entranced in a near-altered state while observing the foursome. The biggest fan responses erupted during the band’s singalong favorites “Breezeblocks”, “Fitzpleasure” and their token cover of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day”.
Playing off the palpable energy of the crowd and intrinsic opulence of the amphitheater, both artists brought a truly unique experience to the spring concert calendar at the Greek Theatre, which seems purposefully built to entertain performances of this artistic caliber. Beautifully executed and perfectly syncopated with its surroundings, this show is one that those in attendance will definitely be talking about for quite some time.