Atlas Genius at Fine Line, 6/4/13
Photo by Athena Feldshon
with Haerts and the Postelles
Fine Line Music Cafe
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
In an almost perfect reflection of their songs in general, Atlas Genius' set Tuesday at the sold-out Fine Line was polished and efficient from beginning to end. While it had little to offer in the way of surprises, it more than made up for its predictability with the sheer quality of their laid-back, power-poppy rock. While "Trojans" may be their big hit (and rightly so), they have a quiver full of songs, just as catchy and enjoyable -- any of them worthy of follow-up single status.
Beginning with "Symptoms," the closing track on this year's debut full-length When it Was Now began the night in fine fashion as the crowd settled in and they quickly, wordlessly followed up with "On a Day," the double shot out of the gate indicative of how the rest of the night would unfold.
Photo by Athena Feldshon
"If So" was next and it highlighted something that was identifiable on record but was much more clear in a live setting: while the songs are nothing short of intoxicating with their razor-sharp hooks and reflective, often winsome lyrics, the quiet ache of sadness present in so many of the tracks is much more pronounced. It lent a depth to the set that isn't attainable listening to the recorded work, regardless of the quality of your headphones. The vibe was changed a bit, from one that toes the line maybe a bit to close to treacle in recorded form to one that made it seem the band has tossed a quantity of diamond dust into the air -- everything fairly sparkled, even during the few pensive, spare moments.
Things slowed down for a few minutes as lead singer/guitarist Keith Jeffery grabbed an acoustic guitar and the rest of the band briefly exited the stage for a compelling rendition of "All These Girls," that found much of the audience -- particularly the females in attendance -- singing along from the outset. A lot of music in this vein is viewed, for better or worse, as relatively disposable, but if nothing else was convincing, the brief minutes that "All These Girls" existed on stage, naked and vulnerable, should have made anyone on the fence about Atlas Genius rethink their stance -- their songs are anything but disposable.
The set re-entered efficiency mode for the remainder as they offered up "Don't Make a Scene" and "Through the Glass" before getting a bit theatrical during the intro to the song it seemed most of the audience was waiting for, "Trojans." They playfully dragged the opening moments out for a couple of minutes before rolling over into a note-perfect version of the song that had everyone in the crowd dancing (or at least swaying to the beat) as the hour-long set came to close. They said their goodbyes, left the stage and then quickly returned for one last song that ultimately proved to be the most fun.
"Electric" the opening track on When it Was Now had a bit of everything: dance-pop, 8-bit weirdness on keys and a guitar hook so simple it seems you've heard it a million times, though it's wholly new. The band may be able to hang their hat of the success of "Trojans" but they should hang their pride on "Electric." As the song ended, with Keith Jeffery performing a calculated, amusing jump from the drum riser to boot, it seemed that Atlas Genius had a pretty clear-eyed view of who they are and who they might want to be. They may be playing smaller clubs now, but the arenas may soon be calling. It appeared that the band will be more than ready for the call.
Critic's Bias: I, like many, fell instantly under the spell of "Trojans" and was both surprised and elated to learn that When it Was Now was filled with great songs -- I had expected a lot of filler. Seeing the songs live made them that much better.
The Crowd: A sold-out crowd at the Fine Line. Enough said.
Overheard In the Crowd: Koo Koo Kanga Roo's Bryan Atchison to me: "Look for my review tomorrow. It's going to be me reviewing your performance taking notes for your own review."
Notebook Dump: "Trojans" is about the fifth best song I've heard here tonight. I can't describe how great that makes me feel.
Photos by Athena Feldshon
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