Wednesday night at the Independent a glorious sonic revelation hit my face. For the first time since I’ve had a real interest in music, since I purchased my first album at the tender age of 9 (Natalie Merchant’s MTV Unplugged don’t judge me!), I was to see a headlining act without hearing any portion of any of their songs. Somehow, I’d found a way to avoid Geographer – a local mainstay long before I moved to SF in 2009 and now a burgeoning national name – completely and utterly. How that happened I have no idea.
There is absolutely no way to tell what this band sounds like just by looking at the crowd. Noise Pop is to blame for some of the diversity, but the festival atmosphere doesn’t explain why such a diverse crowd would be so universally excited. Judging from the crowd around me, Geographer either a) produces killer hip-hop; b) belts out crafty indie-pop tunes like Death Cab or c) make the ladies dance like Girl Talk. The only thing that everyone seems to have in common is that they’re smoking bud and drinking beers. Some guy spilled a beer on my camera but he was too excited to notice or care. I was kind of too. I mentioned to a different neighbor in the crowd that I’ve never heard of Geographer, hoping to he’d heighten my expectations even further. He gave me the death stare (HOW DARE YOU TAKE THE SPOT OF A LOYAL FAN!), only to quickly give ground to the part of his brain that can’t wait to talk about Geographer’s killer sound (“His voice rivals Thom Yorke’s”).
The originator of the collective (and singer and keyboardist), Michael Deni, takes stage left; Nathan Blaz, on cello and computer, takes stage right; and Brian Ostreicher, drummer, holds down center. Finally, the moment I’ve been waiting for! – music! And it’s……kind of predictable! not a bad thing, not in the least. It’s high-energy indie-dance rock driven by relentless beats and Michael Deni who has an unbelievably underrated voice (how had I not heard the Thom Yorke comparison before?!?!). Their four to five minute songs build, holding catchy throughout without sacrificing substance and tact. It sounds like they’re the brand new baby boy from parents The Antlers and Passion Pit (teen pregnancy!).