Maps and Atlases and Tall Ships: The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

I am a self proclaimed novice when it comes to Chicago quartet Maps and Atlases, their recent show at the Brudenell Social Club was my first live acquaintance with the band and initial introduction to many of their songs; I attend the gig with nothing more than factual information derived from pre-gig research and a vague familiarity of their musical endeavours. So naturally, I await their set with curiosity and a lack of expectations or forethought.

I am, however, comfortably aware of the genre in which they are placed, and judging by the aptly selected support bands, Richard Parker and Tall Ships, the night was inevitably going to turn into a Math rock explosion. Local band Richard Parker kicked off proceedings with a dark, brooding set comprising of post-rock pleasantries and instrumental gems. Unfortunately my initial interest soon turned into tedium as their set became a little predictable and all too familiar (although my short attention span could be partly to blame) but despite this observation, they still managed to obtain a healthy amount of interest from the crowd.

Fortunately, Tall Ships were on hand to breathe some much needed life into the room and proceeded the night with an impressive performance fuelled by layered guitar riffs, sampled keys and vocal harmonies. This combined with an overall epic sound and on-stage individuality highlighted their experimental take on Math rock, resulting in an obvious contrast between themselves and Richard Parker. The seemingly boozy contribution from some of the Brudenell punters during ‘Vessels’ suggested that I was not alone in thinking that they were the highlight of the evening, while also providing slight concern for Maps and Atlases by being difficult to surpass.

After a brief break, Maps and Atlases graced the stage and abruptly began a varied set that emphasised their progression and ability to commit to more than one genre, depicted in upbeat ‘Pigeon’ and ballad infused ‘Remote & Dark Years’. They kick start with ‘Winter’, a track from their recent album release Beware and Be Grateful, while also providing crowd pleasers, apparent from the positive response given by the Brudenell’s youthful crowd. Admittedly I didn’t share the same enthusiasm as I became reluctantly uninspired, but perhaps that has something to do with the upstaging from their preceding support, or maybe it is merely a reflection of my own personal music taste. Nevertheless, throughout my occasional doubts appeared unexpected waves of hope that was fuelled by Dave Davison’s vocal abilities and the bands efforts in song writing and instrumental talent that would be difficult to dismiss and apparent to any music fan.

More noticeably was the bands humbled reaction to the response from their fans as they were enticed back on stage by a demanding crowd, concluding the night with a ferocious encore. I may have attended with a lack of expectations or prerequisites, but I left confidently knowing that Maps and Atlases did not disappoint.