“I remember when we couldn’t even get a show in this town…and now we’re at the FUCKING Fillmore,” proclaimed Geographer frontman/guitarist/synth-master Michael Deni last Thursday night, during a banter-break between floating falsettos and pulsing synths. This set the scene for the evening: Geographer hasn’t played in their San Francisco home turf since October ’12, so Deni, cellist/electro-tech Nathan Blaz, and drummer Brian Ostreicher were more than ready for a sold-out 1,200-person family reunion.
Geographer’s had about a year to let the bubbly, airy electro-pop tunes on their latest release, Myth, settle a bit. The adoring crowd at The Fillmore was equally as pumped to hear Myth‘s “Life of Crime,” “Blinders,” and “Lover’s Game” as they were for some older tracks, like the psychedelic-electro “Original Sin” and ubiquitous single “Kites” from Animal Shapes. With each song, Deni and the crew cast graceful, effervescent synth sounds and crystal-clear vocals over an undulating audience. Their set was equal parts indie-electronica, and rawer guitar-laden pop-rock, but both sides of the three-piece gave the packed-in venue a buoyant, 90-minute (most-likely drunken) dance party.
Fitting for the family reunion, San Francisco-based Midi Matilda opened for Geographer (in addition to ex-Scattered Trees/fellow synth-ophiles On An On). A little more tongue-in-cheek and a lot more on-stage snark, the duo (Logan Grimé and Skyler Kilborn) did a solid job of setting the mood. I knew this was going to get entertaining when the percussionist emerged from his drum set and danced across the stage with a tambourine, but the best part was obviously their coordinated, funkified dance break. That, and the furious tribal drum-slaying that ended their set.
Geographer certainly kept up the lively vibes, but switched it up when they exchanged their drums and keys for a guest appearance by the Magik*Magik Orchestra. The five-song, mid-set interim put Blaz’s electric cello and Deni’s falsetto at the forefront, like in their cover of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting.” Sans-electronics, the gorgeous string arrangements and sentimental guitar ballads added some much-appreciated diversity. But before the crowd could start to nod off (I mean they’re drunk, they wanna fuckin’ dance), the trio picked it back up and proved that soaring strings and pulsing beats can coexist beautifully.
A half-dozen emphatic instrumental breaks later, the band launched into their last song — the much-adored, electro-pop anthem “Kites.” No San Francisco Geographer show is complete without a stage dive, so “Kites” was the perfect opportunity for Deni to fling himself off the stage and into the hands of the screaming San Franciscan crowd. Once again – after a jaunt across the country and a few sold-out shows later – Geographer was home.