LIVE REVIEW: Geographer @ Bowery Ballroom

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story + pics / Adeline Tan

Hailing all the way from San Francisco, CA – indie/electronic rock band Geographer brought immensely soulful music directly from outer space. They took the stage at the Bowery Ballroom last Saturday night playing to a sold out crowd, feverishly eager for their set to start. Geographer has released two full-length albums to date, Innocent Ghosts in 2008 and recently in 2012, Myth. They came out with an EP album Animal Shapes in 2010, which caught the attention of music aficionados and electronic indie music lovers alike.

Electro-meets-indie pop whisperers Geographer comprise of lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Deni, cellist/electronics player Nathan Blaz and drummer Brian Ostreicher. They formed in San Francisco in 2006. Deni built the band’s foundation by composing songs on guitar and a synthesizer he picked up on the street. Adding Blaz and Ostreicher to the group, who originally met while attending Berklee College of Music. Their song The Morning was featured in the movie New York, I Love You and the band was listed in SPIN magazine’s “Undiscovered Bands You Need to Hear Now” list. In March 2011, the band signed with Modern Art Records, based in New York City.
Michael Deni, Nathan Blaz and Brian Ostreicher emerged and dove headfirst into their signature symphonic synth pop. Deni’s voice just soars and fills the room, matchless vocals replace the oxygen in the jam-packed room and everybody gladly inhaled it in. They opened with the well-known tune, Life of Crime, clearly a crowd favorite off their latest album Myth.
The trio had a method of calming the audience down with spellbinding moody tunes like Kaleidoscope and hitting us with upbeat fun songs like Lover’s Game which pumped up the rock & roll feel. However, Myth’s grimmer selections like the M83-esque The Boulder left bodies motionless or I would like to think of it as meditative and self-reflective.

When Paris came on, that intro brought out those dancing feet along with that indie pop synth sound. Silky and intricate beats rolled out onto the floor, it was electronic pop paradise. Even under all the instrumental layers and elements that create Geographer, Deni’s angelic voice was never lost in the mix. Every component of Geographer’s recorded sound was impeccably balanced and I was thrilled to observe that translated on stage. Geographer’s secret is that they remain dynamic, magnetic and expressive with each song. Deni danced around on dance, reached out to the crowd and even showed us his numerous skills with several instruments, one of which being the saxophone.
Of course, as soon as they started playing Kites, everyone was dancing along, making the house jump in unison along with the beat. Some songs brought out some slow dancing amongst the romantic couples in the room, swaying just as they would at prom. During their set, head bobbing and zealous flailing ensued. Hands in the air and bodies moving side to side, just the way it should be. Wishfully sweet lyrics conjured up the 80s, an interplanetary ambiance serenading earth from a galaxy far away.
Verona from Animal Shapes featured a multi-part layering, cello accents from Blaz and Ostreicher’s well-performed drums. The sweeping beauty of the electric cello was mystifying. Blaz blows the crowd’s mind with possibly the most badass instrument on stage combined with effects pedals to produce unique sounds. He made the cello a must have for every indie rock band. It gives the songs so much depth and sophistication, creating a rich array of sounds. And Deni definitely made use of his prowess with sampling and looping his vocals using an Akai MIDI controller.

After the encore, Geographer proceeded to play a cover of Arthur Russell’s song This Is How We Walk On The Moon. The cover showcased their talent to base their sound on live instrumentation in a way that highlights a chill, relaxed vibe. This is when Deni brings out the saxophone line and the band delivers wholesome synth effects. The song had a scaling intro with a straightforward drumbeat that moved it forward.
The trio ended with a crowd pleaser, Original Sin. The group of clearly enthused fans and patrons of the band sang along at the top of their lungs. They have certainly gained a following of devotees, and after attending this concert, I understand why. Deni amped the crowd, he tried to encourage fans to come closer to the stage as he sang and put on an impassioned show. He continued to thank the audience generously for being such a fun crowd.
If this headlining tour is any indication, Geographer has amazing things in store for them! They did put me in a music induced-trance, which is always a good thing.
More pics go here!

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