Maps + Atlases @ Bottletree Cafe, Birmingham, AL (Pi Day: 3/14/11)

MAPS and ATLASES Live Show!

Maps + Atlases and Menomena played a show this Monday (14 March, + how appropriate to check out the math-rock stylings of M+A on Pi Day...) at the Bottletree Cafe, on a sporadically rainy Birmingham night. I did not know Menomena prior to the show (or if I did, I'd dismisst what I'd heard quickly), but I very much dig Maps + Atlases' weird melodic spin on the math-rock genre + was looking forward to seeing them play a live show. The Bottletree is a great venue for seeing bands (the food's pretty good, too, though I've only luncht there in July, when the patio is too fucking hot for habitation - the interior's comfy, though) + the rainy weather didn't seem to keep folks away, as there was a good turnout...

Davison a-singin' + a-tappin' his little heart out!

Touring in support of their new album, Perch Patchwork, Maps + Atlases were the opening act last night, which turned out great for me, since I still got to leave early enough to get some sleep, but should've, based on their bad-ass set, been the headlining act. The singer + lead guitarist, Dave Davison, employs a very personalized playing style, with lots of two-handed tapping + flamenco-y sweeps + flicks. I never noticed him using a pick, but his fingerpicking was unique + utterly compelling + he was - impressively - singing during most of the intricate guitar bits.

Added percussion by the blurry + beflanneled Shiraz Dada
Rhythm guitarist Erin Elders also diddled a little Korg for some kooky looping noises, + he + the bassist delved into drumming duties together for a bit as well while the drummer turned to a bells kit for some clever + unusual melodic interplay with the guitar + vocals (those vocals grow on you, but they are rather strange at first blush). The bass player, Shiraz Dada, was solid (with some thoughtfully put together parts + some tasty up-the-neck stuff) + tight with Chris Hainey's drums for the entire set, which were as insane as Davison's guitarwork. Lots of complex rhythmic patterns, with a healthy use of the kit's hardware for lots of woody cliks + klaks + a powerful control of the tempo, with time variations that ramp up or tone down the songs' dynamics... some AfroPop-influenced interplay at times between the guitars + drums, with the bass augmenting the connection, bubbling in + out tastily.

Fucking excellent band (+ really nice guys)! Repeatedly during their set, I caught myself with a beaming smile on my face... the stuff they were doing musically was so infectious + filled with that creative whatever that I was just swept along in the fun of the show. Go see them when they come to your town, dammit!

Maps + Atlases rock the Bottletree (3.14.11)

The wonderful 'Solid Ground' was the set closer; hopefully, I'll have a vid of that to post later (though shot with a drunkenly-handheld Blackberry, so no promise of high-quality)...

Menomena, on the other hand, really never took off for me. Granted, the crowd was really there to see them more than Maps + Atlases - or so it seemed from the abundance of pretty young scene chicks dancing up front + fawning over the handsome-skater-lookin' bass player + drummer, but even with their solid musicianship + the tight set they were layin' down, I was just kinda left flat + headed out to the club's patio to smoke for a few minits before cutting out early.

Maps + Atlases... that's who!
I did, of course, stop by the merch table on the way out + snag a Maps + Atlases t-shirt with a super-snazzy owl design...

Check out the Bottletree Cafe's Show Calendar for more cool upcoming bands: April showers bring May flowers + some fucking promising April shows by Maserati, Cloudland Canyon with White Hills (!!!!!) + lots more!

[Pix from the show, courtesy of excellent local guitarist Donny K.]

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