Maps & Atlases openers Carbon Tigers were well into their set by the time I showed up to saki. I knew it was going to be crowded. At the time, Beware and Be Grateful was a mere ten days away from release, and Maps & Atlases would certainly play a few numbers off their then-upcoming LP. But it's more than just that. Maps & Atlases are hometown heroes in Chicago, having met at the same college the majority of the Epitonic staff attended. What I wasn't ready for was Adam Hirzel, manager of saki, at the door turning people away. It was breaking Adam's heart, but saki had reached capacity. No one was going home, though. You could hear the group fine from outside, and folks lined up along the windowsill, stretching their cameras out over their heads hoping to catch something notable. 

Getting inside was simple enough (VIP status), but getting to the stage was impossible. So I enjoyed the show from the back of the shop while checking out the Ryan Duggan art on display. Maps & Atlases opened with "Winter" off Beware and Be Grateful, followed by fan favorite "Pigeon" off 2010's Barsuk release, Perch Patchwork. The group played three more tracks off Beware as well as a few older tracks, all the while making their complex melodies flow with ease. As the crowd swelled around them, the quartet closed with "Solid Ground" to roaring applause. 

Once the band packed up, the crowd cleared out quickly. Most Sessions end with a few Epitonic people bumming around saki until closing time when we go get beers or food or sleep or whatever. As we were all shuffling around the back of the store trying to figure what was going on after the show, a couple approached the back entrance after seeing Maps & Atlases frontman Dave Davison hanging out. The woman explained to Davison that she was a fan and tried to get out of work early to catch the show, but couldn't make it in time. Luckily for the seven of us still there, Davison unpacked his Harmony Hollow Body Jazzbox and played a solo version of "Pigeon," keeping time with a flat-soled stomp on saki's wood floor. Intimate doesn't even begin to describe it. I can't be sure if the young lady was moved to tears or not, but she should have been. 

Video shot and edited by Jason Zenz. Photos by Denise Lu. For more pictures from this insanely crowded and incredibly awesome Session, check out The Omelette Chronicles.

Audio engineering, mixing, and mastering: Hawon Jung