Review: Menomena and Maps & Atlases at the Gargoyle, Thursday, March 10

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Review: Menomena and Maps & Atlases at the Gargoyle, Thursday, March 10
Scott Layne

For the most part, Menomena's dense arrangements came out tight. Alcott's keys might have been a hair off tempo in a few brief, isolated moments but everything else came together like clockwork once the songs were put in motion. Starting the "really old" song "The Late Great Libido" proved humorously problematic for the band though, as they laughed off two false starts. Fortunately, everything past that point was ace, especially the climactic crescendo in closer "Rotten Hell" and the menacing encore of "The Pelican."

Chicago's Maps & Atlases put on an impressive display of musicianship in their strong opening set. Although they've trended toward more accessible folky songwriting as their career has progressed, the quartet's math rock DNA showed in guitarists Dave Davison and Erin Elders' skilled finger tapping and Chris Hainey's spazzy yet meticulously controlled drumming. Davison also wisely pairs his vocal lines with matching guitar parts on most of the band's songs, which help make his polarizing, froggy vocals easier to swallow. And Hainey's ability to juggle complex drum beats with one hand while playing glockenspiel with the other was stunning. (I thought the bells were pre-recorded until I got a better view). Maps & Atlases thankfully backed up their prodigious technical talent with solid songwriting that managed to make most of their tunes' many twists and turns hummable. The audience certainly appreciated the band, as Maps & Atlases left the stage to an unsuccessful chant of "One more song."

Menomena setlist: 1. Strongest Man in the World 2. Taos 3. Weird 4. Twenty Cell Revolt 5. Muscle'n Flo 6. Five Little Rooms 7. Bote 8. Queen Black Acid 9. Tithe 10. The Late Great Libido 11. Dirty Cartoons 12. Rotten Hell

Encore 13. The Pelican

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