Atlas Genius brings 63 Days of Love to the mid-Atlantic
The mid-Atlantic region recently played host to Australian-bred, Los Angeles-based indie band Atlas Genius, who brought their infectious brand of synth-infused rock to Philadelphia and Washington DC as their extensive 63 Days of Love tour winds to a close. The band recently released a new single and accompanying video for the song “63 Days” and, fresh off an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s late night show, brought the promise of forthcoming new music with them.
They stopped first at the Foundry, a small club contained within the Fillmore Philadelphia, on a beautiful Sunday night. The room was filled with concertgoers of all ages and, thanks in large part to the stellar openers, pop-rock band Half the Animal and the incredibly entertaining, banjo-and-fiddle-jamming Magic Giant, the excitement was palpable. The subterranean hum of anticipation morphed into a full-throated roar as the house lights went down and the band sauntered onto the tiny, cramped stage, the very picture of rock ‘n’ roll in their worn white tees, leather jackets, and disheveled hair.
The creative force behind Atlas Genius are brothers Keith (lead vocals and guitar) and Michael (drums) Jeffery, and they were joined on this tour by third Jeffery brother, Steven, on synthesizer, as well as Daniel Curcio on bass, and Josh Rheault on guitar and keys. They opened with the slow build of "The City We Grow" before blowing the roof off with the bombast of "Stockholm,” and with that, the tone was set for the rest of the show. The night featured a seamless blend of songs from their two LPs, 2013's When It Was Now and 2015's Inanimate Objects, blockbusters like "Trojans" and "If So" mingling with "All These Girls" and "Where I Belong" (which, according to Keith, was an appropriate song for bassist Curcio that night, Curcio being a Philly native). The audience was treated to new songs as well: the softly reflective and deeply intimate "63 Days" and the as-yet-unreleased tracks "Animals" and "Operate," both of which capture the infectious, guitar-driven dance sound they’ve perfected and which offer a glimpse into the album on which they're currently working. After the main twelve song set and a brief off-stage respite, they returned to play a scorching, sinister cover of Dead or Alive's thirty-year-old hit "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).” The final numbers of the night were the stirring intro of Inanimate Objects, "The Stone Mill," which, just as on the album, led immediately into what might be their best song, the tour de force "Molecules." The audience was left breathless and exhilarated and stunned that the show had concluded seemingly in a heartbeat.
The following night saw them in a decidedly different setting. The Foundry's exposed duct work and dark industrial vibe gave way to light-filled cupolas and marble pillars at the historic Sixth and I synagogue in Washington DC, an unusual but strikingly beautiful venue for a concert. The elevated platform where services are usually held became the stage, and the contrast between the solemn, traditional background and the modern instruments and equipment arrayed upon it was jarring. But the band used it to their advantage, as evidenced by the roomful of worshipful eyes turned up towards them in an altogether different kind of religious experience.
The set was much the same as the previous night, except for the addition of a faithful and fantastic cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Want to Rule the World.” But it wouldn’t have mattered to anyone who happened to attend both gigs. They are the sort of songs a person could listen to over and over again and not tire of them, performed by a band that pours the same passion into every show. Their music is addictive, an unusual but irresistible mix of guitar rock and ‘80s-inspired synth-pop, with an end result that makes it difficult to keep from dancing while listening. The combination of adroit songwriting and Keith's vocals, which walk a razor’s edge of plaintive delicateness and compelling muscularity, render each tortured, hopeful tale of lust, longing, and love majestic. That the quality of their output continues to improve bodes well for fans who have been waiting two years for new music…they can rest assured that whatever Atlas Genius have in store will be worth the wait.
Coverage by Colleen Martin
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