Atlas Genius is the low-key crowd magnet of ACL Fest

There are a lot of Atlas Genius fans. The Austin City Limits Music Festival schedulers know that now.

Keith Jeffery of Atlas Genius gets out in the crowd during a performance on the BMI Stage on the final day of the second weekend of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park Oct. 9. 10/09/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Keith Jeffery of Atlas Genius gets out in the crowd during a performance on the BMI Stage on the final day of the second weekend of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park Oct. 9. 10/09/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The Australian rock band packed the small BMI stage to the absolute gills, with faces spreading to the edge of the horizon (well, as seen from the front of the stage) and spilling over the sides into the trees. In a stroke of loaves-and-fishes luck, Atlas Genius had enough entertainment ready for everyone.

Singer Keith Jeffery ran to the lip of the stage from go on “Stockholm,” which charted a course for leather-jacketed convertible cruising music. The band rocked, but not too hard, on playlist staples like “If So.” Disco drums, twangy guitar, Jiffy Pop drums and inviting funky licks maintained a baseline groove for an hour. If anything, the members of Atlas Genius exceeded their own songs on sheer hype power. There was copious amp standing. By only the fourth song, the lead Jeffery brother was at the edge of the crowd barrier with his guitar, hungrily playing to every point within a 180-degree arc.

As it turns out, Atlas Genius is also the premiere 1980s cover band of ACL. They delivered a steady take of “Everybody Wants To Rule the World,” sobering up the Tears For Fears song with a playful synth riff and an oddly calming guitar solo. They also put a decidedly less glam face on Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round.”

As is the case for many a midday festival band, the hour was a prelude to a hit — “Trojans,” in this case. Certainly not a clattering roller coaster of a closer. More like a mid-tempo cool down lap. But on a song all about intimate connection, and on every for song for that matter, Atlas Genius made large-scale crowd work feel like eye contact in a restaurant booth.


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