Geographer, On an On @ Urban Lounge 01.17

Posted January 25, 2013 in

Geographer's Mike Deni calls out for everyone to raise their cell phones. Photo:

Hearing little of Geographer and On an On beforehand, I headed over to Urban Lounge as a clean slate, fully determined to make a blast of the evening. Lucky for me and the people I traveled with, both of the bands brought a stunning energy to the evening that got everyone shaking what their mamas gave 'em. 

On an On hail from Chicago, with a new moniker for the reincarnated Scattered Trees. After a couple of the bandmates dropped out, the remaining three members (Ryne Estwing, Nate Eiesland and Alissa Ricci) got together, and, under the direction of producer Dave Newfeld (from Broken Social Scene), started recording under their new name. The strong percussion coupled with loud synths in bounty, and I was impressed by their concise production  of danceable beats.
The band reminded me of a mixture of Local Natives or Band of Horses, with more ’80s flair, which is welcome with open arms in my book. Vocalist Nate Eiesland definitely wooed the crowd with such smooth and heartfelt lyrics, and melodies appropriate to make a young couple swoon in the backseat of a car. On an On set the tone for the rest of the evening with a wicked performance, doing a fine job at engaging the crowd with their set. With a cover of “And I Was A Boy From School” by Hot Chip and some trippy, honeycomb-patterned visuals, this band really made it easy for folks to dance the hipster-shuffle. 
One thing I have heard from the performances of Geographer is the knack they have to draw the crowd in. I missed them when I went to Outside Lands last summer (they were fighting against Tame Impala), but heard that the staging area was filled with people dancing and singing along. Salt Lake was certainly no exception: From what I could tell, everyone was bewitched. Lead singer Mike Deni kept pulling people in, calling our attention and riling up the crowd. For as crowded as it was at Urban Lounge, this is not something that just happens for anyone. It takes skill to get the crowd off the single-track mindedness of making sure drinks are filled and to end the slews of conversation. I don't know how many people, like me, had heard virtually nothing of the band before the night, but it was no matter: Somehow, Deni was able to get people singing along to some of the simpler melodies, making seem it as though we were all already longtime fans. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the fact that the band member Nathan Blaz uses the cello along with controlling the synths. It's refreshing to see bands play around with different instruments, and the trio blends their pop sounds and that monster of a classical instrument deftly. 
Most of the songs they played came from their 2012 release, Myth, sprinkling in a few songs from their previous EP release, Animals. If you haven't yet given these a listen, I'd highly recommend it. These are songs that will definitely get you pumped up for whatever you are about to do, and is certain to release some positive endorphins. From a recent interview with BAMM.TV, the band stated that Myth "deals with the many ways myths play into our modern lives.” In our age, the state of science and technology seems to create a "myth-less society," yet that ceases to end the myths that we live our lives by, making it the motif for their latest release. Looking at the lyrics of their songs, they are latent with tales of lovers leaving each other and what they leave behind, meditations on how we process time, combined with more physical and tangible processes. A highlight of the night was the song "Lover's Game," which is a mythical song of epic proportions, belting out "There's nothing we can do, we were born to die fools!"
Coming back onstage for an encore meant a repeat of songs they played, which was charming. These are definitely a group to watch out for, so be sure to make it the next time they decide to pass through our salty city. I look forward to seeing what they continue to come out with!
Geographer's Mike Deni calls out for everyone to raise their cell phones. Photo: Urban Lounge enjoyed a near-capacity crowd for the Geographer/On And On show. Photo: