Ghostly International are no strangers to Decibel Festival. In fact, the imprint has had a showcase at Decibel every year since its founding in 2003. Without a doubt, this year’s edition was nothing to pass up. With visuals supplied by Scott Sunn and diverse sets by Seattle electronica artist Lusine, instrumental art rock band Tycho, and powerful musical mystery Matthew Dear, the Showbox was alive with energy and creative flow all night.
Seattle’s own Lusine (Jeff McIlwain) opened the evening with a fantastic set of electronic creations. Lusine has been creating beautiful electronica for a decade. His newest LP A Certain Distance is just as progressive and beautiful as ever, with the excellent tune “Two Dots”. As the Showbox continued to fill, his chilled-out set turned up the energy dial bit by bit. The packed bar was full of cheers and hollering between tunes, and by the end of his set, the floor had packed out a bit and dancing began. Lusine bid farewell with a smile and opened up the floor for Tycho to let loose.
Lusine was followed by Tycho, whose wordless power captured everyone’s attention immediately. Their 2011 release Dive seduced fans of Explosions in the Sky and the Album Leaf who were looking for something with a bit more of a groove. Saturday night, they worked similar magic on the Showbox and blew everyone out of the water. Where similar acts might have looped drums on a machine or backing track, Tycho’s live drums (provided by Rory O’Connor) were unbelievably tight and kept the groove flowing throughout his set. Similarly excellent bass guitar by Zac Brown was heavy and beautiful. These two said not a word the entire set, but their superior musicianship was lauded throughout. Scott Hansen, the mastermind behind Tycho, alternated between synthesizers and guitar, completely entranced in his own creations. Oftentimes, it seems hard to relate to bands that choose the instrumental route, as they don’t express their feelings using words. But that was no problem tonight. The crowd was off their feet dancing, and completely lost in these fantastic tunes, not to mention the crazy cool art layered on top of them by Scott Sunn. Tycho’s set was an emotionally captivating and visceral art experience, and I doubt many of the audience will be missing them on their next tour through Seattle.
Around 12:15am, lights went down for Matthew Dear and band to enter. Four days into Decibel Festival, everyone has been up until 2am for days, and any energy mustered at this point is a gift. But as Matthew Dear’s music began to rumble forth, the night transformed. It became very evident that his set couldn’t have possibly been any earlier in the day. The primal, animalistic mixture of dance, experimental, and otherwise was a dark and sensual beast that is best experienced in the dark of the night. As he broke into new album Beams opener “Her Fantasy”, eyes closed, dancing became natural, and the crowd dove headfirst into the dark, swirling sound presented before them. Dear was all over the stage, tambourine this way and that, shredding on guitar, and shrieking into the microphone with tribal ferocity. Time flew by as Dear moved song to song and the crowd became more entranced. And before anyone knew it, it was 1:30am and another night of Decibel Festival closed. Dear’s set was unquestioningly one of the best of the weekend.