Missoula’s got a pretty good rep in Portland. As well it should, since we as a city had a hand in the musical upbringing of many of that city’s most happening acts. The Dutch Flat, the Fireballs of Freedom, even the Decemberists—you could easily make the case that none of these acts would exist (or, in the case of the now-defunct Dutch Flat, would have existed) if it weren’t for the good ol’ Garden City. I find myself getting a little proprietary about it sometimes, especially when I visit Portland. I feel like they owe Missoula an oversize novelty thank-you card, if not an oversize novelty check.
The two erstwhile Missoulians in the Portland band Book of Maps, Christopher Baumann and Christopher Pickolick, certainly platted some new musical avenues while they were still living here. Baumann’s shadowy Missoula past traces the arc of the Jay’s scene practically from beginning to end, starting with Absolute (whose underage members had to be accompanied to Jay’s by a parent or guardian) and the speaker-shredding Evaders (with guitarist Sam “What? I used to play in a hardcore band?” Nasset) and culminating with the hush-core Pleasure and One Point Plan. Never a band to play 10 shorter songs when they could fold them all into one 40-minute song, One Point Plan was among the most ambitious and prodigious acts in the last big crop of Jay’s bands.
Pickolick, who played in One Point Plan, Firehawk and the Paul Bunyan Band (the latter to be cherished in perpetuity for its “covers” album of songs from video games) is famous in Jay’s circles for never listening to punk. A precocious guitar player, most of his inspiration comes from prog and classic ’70s rock—the guy was born with Yes in one speaker and Mahavishnu Orchestra in the other.
Book of Maps might be the two Christophers’ most successful partnership to date. Their debut album, One, is a triple prog LP’s worth of guitar heroics crammed into eight songs of stuttering math-rock, with Baumann’s emo declamations “vocabularizing” fetching song titles like “Get Over It, Eve, Those Paw Tattoos Aren’t That Hot” and “Some Lavender Wizards Just Can’t Cruise Together.” Marvelous stuff, all the more so because (not to get all sappy or anything) I feel I watched it happen. It seems like just yesterday a 15-year-old Baumann was bashing out “Just a Kid” at Jay’s, and now listen to what he and Pickolick are up to! They grow up so fast, don’t they?
Book of Maps plays Area 5 on Friday, Nov. 5, with Merrick Foundation, Casual Drama and act(s) TBA. Show starts around 8:30 PM. $5. Area 5 is located at 732 S. First St. W.