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Maps and Atlases make math musical

Lizzy Schroff | Sunday, October 7, 2012



On Friday night, I made my way to Legends for the Maps and Atlases concert. I learned my lesson from last Friday’s experience and made sure to arrive at the venue with plenty of time to spare. Maps and Atlases is an indie-rock band hailing from Chicago. They have been described as a math rock band (I had to look this one up) whose characteristics consist of irregular, syncopated rhythms in which the guitarist often uses a “tapping” method of play and the drumming is a focal point. The band has released two full-length studio albums, “Perch Patchwork” and “Beware and Be Grateful,” as well as a handful of EPs

The show opened with student group, In Euphoric Company. The band is composed of seniors Tyler Eto (guitar and lead vocals), Kino Lee (bass), Lacey Chochran (electric guitar and backing vocals) and Duncan Smith (drums). They are a self-described ambient-pop group that has been together for three years. 

Eto and a friend from home, Gerek Edrosolan, write all of their music. In Euphoric Company played an ethereal four-song set with sounds reminiscent of groups such as The xx and Local Natives. The group is in the process of writing some new music they hope to play at future shows at Notre Dame. If you would like to check out more of their music, visit their Facebook page where you can download their full-length album. I did, and I’m certainly enjoying it.

Maps and Atlases soon followed, opening with the delightful “Pigeon” from their album “Perch Patchwork.” Lead singer and guitarist Dave Davison thanked the audience for their enthusiastic clapping, saying, “That was a really impressive clap performance. Steady, consistent. It was great.” They soon dove right into “Winter,” another upbeat song from their most recent album, “Beware and Be Grateful.” Their next song, “Artichokes,” featured a drum opening played entirely on the rim of the snare drum.

One of the highlights of the night was “Old and Gray.” The song featured more effects than their previous songs, with an electronic-sounding voice distortion and eclectic sound bites throughout. The effects continued with the opening to “The Charm,” which began with a buzzing looped sound. The song was mainly driven by the marching drums of Chris Hainey and a lone-standing bass drum played by bassist Shiraz Dada, as Davison longingly sang “I don’t think there is a sound that I hate more/than the sound of your voice/when you say that you don’t love me anymore.” 

A soulful guitar riff led into “Solid Ground,” which had everyone swaying with the catchy beat and melody. The upbeat rhythm continued with “Silver Self” and “Remote and Dark Years.” Davison, who appeared to be on the shy side throughout the show, disclosed to the audience he would be uncomfortable if he had to sing without his guitar. “I think I could do it for 10 seconds, and then I wouldn’t know what to do with my hands,” he said.

The other standout from the show was a 10- to 15-minute-long version of “Old Ash.” The instrumentals throughout were exceptional, particularly the interlude filling the majority of the song. Solos shifted between athletic drumming of Hainey and the tapping guitar of Davison. The audience couldn’t help but jam along with the music. The band finished their regular set with “Fever,” featuring an intriguing, almost oriental-sounding effect, among others, from guitarist and effects-man Erin Elders.

Maps and Atlases obliged the audience’s call for an encore, leading into “Be Three Years Old” with a little riff of “Stairway to Heaven.” (I was waiting for someone to clamor for an entire rendition of the Led Zeppelin song.) The song featured a great bass line and fantastic, quirky drumbeat. They closed out the show with “Living Decorations,” leading in with an echoing forest-sounding effect. 

Having only heard one or two songs from Maps and Atlases’ repertoire before I attended the concert, I didn’t really know what to expect. However, I was pleasantly surprised by their performance. From what I could tell, they expanded their songs. Rather than playing each track exactly as they had on their albums, the band members featured more instrumental interludes (highlighted by Hainey’s superb drumming and Davison’s mesmerizing tapping guitar), making for a very well rounded show. They struck a balance between experimental sounds, simple melodies and syncopated, complicated rhythms. This is one band that I will definitely be keeping my eye on in the future.

Contact Lizzy Schroff at
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