It’s hard to go wrong with an Atlas Genius performance. They have the triple threat of a solid catalog, a friendly demeanor, and the rare quality of sounding—somehow—better live than on a recording.
“This is the best venue in the country, by the way,” lead vocalist/guitarist Keith Jeffery said about The Van Buren, which is quickly becoming a favorite among artists. He went on to talk about how the band loves Phoenix and loves coming back to play here.
The band of brothers (Keith, Michael, and Steven Jeffery) and friends have been consistently touring in the U.S. since the release of their first-ever single “Trojans” in 2011, and their past visits to Phoenix included dates with Bear Hands and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. They’ve always been in good company, and they’ve noticed the positive energy at every show.
The crowd, mostly skewing toward young families and middle aged couples on date night to see headliner Matt Kearney, joined right in on the fun as Atlas Genius pulled out old singles like “If So” and “Molecules,” as well as the newer “63 Days.” There was even a cover of Dead or Alive’s iconic “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” that elicited smiles from around the venue.
In between songs, Keith told some quick anecdotes, introduced the other band members, and led a which-section-cheers-the-loudest contest. Another big selling point is the band’s comfort level on stage, one that shows that they’re easy going and friendly and, in turn, scales down the venue to make it feel more intimate.
Atlas Genius hasn’t released an album since 2015, and there’s always the concern that the setlists won’t feel fresh, but I was let in on a secret from Saint Slumber: The songs are just the backdrop of the experience as a whole. And seeing the band play a new venue in a different environment gave the set new life.
So, the Australians closed out with “Trojans,” proudly announcing it was the first song they ever released but still playing it like it’s their newest single and they’re so eager to share it with the world. That’s the kind of enthusiasm you can never pass up.
Story and photos by Taylor Gilliam