Geographer, an indie-rock band from San Francisco, manifested a magical set at Union Transfer May 22. The dense, synthetic sounds captured the crowd, sending beautiful melodies through the venue as Geographer played songs off their new album “Ghost Modern.”
I’ve never seen Union Transfer before the way I saw it May 22. With maybe 20 people in the audience, it was uncanny as Idlehands opened the show. I hate to say it, but after every Idlehands song, the audience stood with, literally, idle hands. It wasn’t that the opening band was bad, rather, the audience had never heard of them. Idlehands provided an entertaining set; it’s a shame that the crowd wasn’t feeling it.
After Idlehands came Empires. Empires, an indie-rock band based out of Chicago played a lackluster set to an even more lackluster audience. The band’s loud noises all blended into one and the audience was chatting around in the back of the venue as opposed to enjoying the set. To give an idea of the creativity that Empires lacks, their two most popular songs are “Hello Lover” and “Please Don’t Tell My Lover.”
Empires concluded their dismal set, and seemingly everyone in the tiny crowd rushed the stage to get the best spot they could at the standing-room-only venue. The set change did not take long, and the headlining act Geographer soon took the stage.
Opening with my favorite song, Geographer played a very passionate rendition of “I’m Ready.” As the man behind Geographer, Michael Deni introduced his band mates to the audience: Duncan Nielsen on bass, Cody Rhodes on percussion and Joyce Lee on cello. As strange as it was, the audience got a huge kick out of Lee’s name, continuing to chant it at several points during the show.
Geographer’s set seemed to drag on, mostly due to the band’s mellow brand of electronica music. I wasn’t expecting much from this show, yet each song seemed to slither into the succeeding one, creating a sincerely scenic but somber atmosphere. I had a feeling that the set would be melancholy, but Deni kept it interesting by looping his sounds throughout each song. Most of the sounds Deni created — whether it was on the keyboard, tambourine or his vocals — ended up getting looped in some way or another and it demonstrated the versatility and talent of Deni as an artist.
Halfway through the show, Deni asked his audience to take a picture with him, which I feel like has become a staple in concerts nowadays. Deni asked his audience to go crazy, “Even if it’s just in [their] head.” Deni proceeded to jump into his audience, getting everyone rowdy.
The band continued on, playing “Too Much,” one of my favorite songs off their new album “Ghost Modern.” The steady song swooned Deni’s crowd as one of the most memorable moments of the night, with “Kites” being the most energetic and playful.
Chanting for an encore (and for Joyce Lee), the crowd welcomed back Geographer as they played several more songs, including an acoustic version of their ambient song “Verona.” Foregoing the song, Deni asked his crowd to be quiet, close their eyes and pretend they were in the shower singing along with the pitter-patter percussion.
The show was not as energetic, passionate or erratic as I had hoped, but I left the venue feeling very much in love with the band. Despite the slow songs sustaining the atmosphere, I can honestly say Geographer played a lovely show I won’t soon forget. Lee’s cello plucked at my heartstrings, Rhodes percussion pounded my eardrums and Deni’s enchanting vocals left me totally enamored.