“The Loft” at UC San Diego is an intimate venue. It has a stage about 30 feet long, taking up about a tenth of the room. After the opening band “Wild Ones” ended their set, fans crowded an arm’s length away from Typhoon’s two drum kits at the front of the stage. The crowd of about 200, roared when lead singer Kyle Morton said that he was glad to be in San Diego.
Morton is the lead singer and songwriter of Portland-based Indie band Typhoon. The 5’7” blue-eyed singer gave fans high fives as he and the other ten members of Typhoon crowded onto the stage—three trumpeters, two violinists, two drummers, a bassist, electric guitarist, and a ukulele player. The numerous multi-instrumentalists of the band had each of their instruments close, creating a dense network of guitars, keyboards, drums and wires.
“There’s a real reciprocal relationship between performer and the crowd they’re performing to and it could be as simple as how enthusiastic the crowd is,” Morton said.
The second song Typhoon played was “Artificial Light,” one of Morton’s favorites off the new record “White Lighter.” Morton starts this song of unison — he and the electric guitarist playing the same chords, trumpeters and violinists playing the same notes, and both drummers mirroring each other stroke for stroke.
The song builds, then slows, then builds to a climax. Midway through Morton sings, while the female violinists harmonize, to a quiet crowd.
Yes you are my sunlight / You are my last breath of air / And I would try to hold it / I would try to keep the moment / Like a photograph of the sunset . . .
The momentum soon picks up again then stops . . . a few seconds of quiet . . . then the band erupts shouting the last word of the song — home — elongating the “o” into two waves of chorus.
“Artificial Light” epitomizes the heart of Typhoon with lyrics that wrestle with a question and end with joy.
Three songs later, they played “The Lake,” track six of “White Lighter.” It tells the story of when Morton was a child chasing fireflies, then was bit by an insect that gave him Lyme Disease. After a sharp decline in health including a kidney transplant, Morton now has to take medication to keep his immune system in line.
“It’s shaded my life in a very certain color,” Morton said.
The song is riddled with pain. In his lyrics, he expresses his regret toward his rejection of his family:
And I was ashamed of my sister because she held onto me when I wasn’t good enough / I’m sorry, you were the only thing I should’ve ever loved
He thrust his hand down with a hard strum on his red electric guitar when he sang the word sorry. The back of his guitar was faded from wear.
The encore featured Typhoon’s hit song “The Honest Truth,” Morton smiling as he sang. The song made me stomp and sing, matching the beat of the trumpets with my steps. At the end of the song, the whole band joins in singing: This is our darkest cave / We’ll never see the day / But slowly make our way up to the mouth.
It’s this sort of questioning, grappling and doubt that give the lyrics their depth and, when sung together, become an affirmation of life.
Morton spoke about a seemingly unreachable standard he set in his mind — to make a record of immense beauty — where he’d feel content to quit after he eclipsed that standard.
“I don’t know if I ever will but I was certainly aiming for it on this one,” Morton said.