Live Review: Geographer

Sophia’s Thai Kitchen // Davis, CA // October 16, 2010

There’s a peculiar charm about the live shows at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen: the gentle air of a cool evening, contrasted by the claustrophobia of 90 people standing shoulder-to-shoulder on a rickety wooden deck. Geographer is no stranger to this feeling, having played here frequently over the past several years. The band’s latest Saturday night show, however, was also Sophia’s season finale, the last show for the next six months – both were compelled to go out in style.

The opening bands helped establish the mood of the night. Portland-based duo Hello Mtn brought elegance with their delicate folk ballads, while Sacramento quartet Sister Crayon offered vaporous, yet danceable, art pop. Geographer provided an ideal balance of the two distinct styles, as the haunting vulnerability of Nathan Blaz’s cello underscored the ferocity of frontman Mike Deni’s electric guitar and keys.

Sophia’s owner Kevin Wan introduced Geographer to the deck, saying, “I can’t think of a better band to close out our season.” The San Francisco trio showcased songs from their newest EP, Animal Shapes. They kicked off their set with the poignant ballad “Heaven Waits,” but steadily quickened into bold electric guitar strums that Band of Horses fans will find familiar. The intensity grew with tunes like “Verona” and “Original Sin,” and the weathered floorboards quaked as the audience danced to Brian Ostreicher’s throbbing drums and Deni’s infectious synth riffs.

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The crowd obviously craved more once Geographer finished their set, but the band had no room to exit and return to the deck. Not a problem: Deni facetiously asked the audience to applaud and chant “Encore!” before he dedicated the final song, the revelatory “Kites,” to Wan and Sophia’s glorious concert season.

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