Atlas Genius is a thoroughly acceptable alt-rock band. The majority of its music sits comfortably in the limbo between the pop and rock genres — too alternative to be pop, too flamboyant to be rock and roll. The group’s latest single, “63 Days,” is more groovy, concretizing a transition in the band’s sound: angsty falsetto, heavy syncopation, darker and moodier album art.
On Sunday night, the Fillmore played host to the band’s recent musical dichotomy. Simply put, the show Atlas Genius played can be recalled in terms of its clap-ability.
“Stockholm” came first, a song marked by a contentedly regular beat, a drum line that even sounds like clapping hands. Illuminated in shades of pink and fluorescent green, lead vocalist Keith Jeffery sang evenly into the mic, wearing a persona of Australian-rocker-chic that prompted him to lean back from the mic performatively at the refrain of “We’re moving from the ground floor,” a measured strain in his voice timed to a quick flip of his shaggy hair.
Following the close of “Stockholm” was a new song paired with an even older one, “All These Girls.” The spotlights swirled colored stripes over the stage in time to Jeffery’s voice as he crooned, “All these girls are not the same / All these girls are not the same as you.”
The first half of Atlas Genius’ set also held the band’s biggest tune: “Trojans” — by far the most popular hit from the Australian brothers and another song defined by by its ability to be clapped along to by shimmying audience members.
From its most well-known song, the band moved to its newest release, “63 Days” — one of the few songs the audience found difficult to clap or dance along to, but one the band steeped in political relevance, alleviating any sense of requirement for a physical display of joy.
Jeffery explained the intent of “63 Days of Love,” the band’s new project: “Right now, we have a lot of bullshit going on in this country, in my country back home — a lot of issues with divides between race groups, sexual orientation, all that sort of thing; a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding.”
“What we want to do is make a small gesture just to slowly bring people back together, to do our part as musicians,” Jeffery said. “What we’re doing, what we’re going to ask everybody to do at the end of the show, when you get a chance, is what we call the ‘soul stare.’ ”
It sounded silly, a tad naive, but the response from the crowd was utterly supportive, the kind of reaction that propelled the at first seemingly insignificant idea to a heartwarming impact.
The perfect cap off to the night was “If So,” from the band’s first album alongside “Trojans,” which Atlas Genius proceeded to follow with a buoyant cover of “You Spin Me Round” and an elongated medley of encore songs.
“If So” is one of the songs whose danceability is inescapable, a fact the crowded front rows resolutely understood — hands clapped, bodies swayed, lips moved to sing along.
Atlas Genius is good at making music like this, music that creates a sense of community among listeners. The idea of a “soul stare” sounds a tad absurd, which is probably why no one leaving the venue actually did it, but Atlas Genius was still able to create the communal experience it wanted through its music. Watching a crowd of people clap along to the same bassline makes it startlingly clear that Atlas Genius knows how to construct a catchy bop. This was made even more apparent by the band’s decision on a set list that see-sawed between songs that allowed the audience to dance to the beat and those that did not (much of the band’s new music).
At the end of the night, leaving the Fillmore with apples in hand, two strangers proved which of the band’s tunes succeeded the most: Walking in opposite directions down the sidewalk, they were both humming “If So.”
Contact Olivia Jerram at [email protected].