When I stepped into HOB for the 7:00 show, I realized with a little horror that there were two acts lined up to open for Atlas Genius – and that the band I had come to see wouldn’t be playing for at least another three hours. I looked at the lineup: Little Comets, an indie-rock trio from the UK, and Family of the Year, another indie-rock band from Los Angeles.
As I grabbed a soda and Little Comets walked onstage to somewhat thin applause, I braced myself for the undeveloped sound one expects from smaller, less-known groups like these. But, of course, I was pleasantly surprised by Comets as they strummed out their opening numbers – they certainly knew how to keep a crowd entertained. While I do think that some of the fan-girls in the crowd were there only for the lead singer’s looks and English accent, Comets still pulled off a great show to warm up the crowd. Their lead guitarist deserves special mention – his technical skill was creative and definitely worth seeing live. After that set, a half hour or so was spent waiting for the next group’s sound check. This is probably my least favorite thing about House of Blues – sound checks just seem to go on and on, while the crowd bumps around on the floor, some drunk, others pretending to be.
At last, the stage cleared and Family of the Year made their appearance. This four-piece group had a distinct character, playing songs that range from the heartfelt folk to intense, loud punk rock. Each member of the band had unique qualities to them – the bassist looked a little too much like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, the girl on keyboard was the pretty face and voice of the group, and the drummer in the back looked like he was having an orgasm with every kick of the bass drum. I loved it. While their between-song conversational filler could use a little work, these guys are worth keeping an eye on, and I’ll definitely be seeing them again next time they’re in town.Then it was another half hour as the curtain closed and we waited for Atlas Genius’ sound check.
I’m a little surprised with Genius’ fame, to be honest. Having released only a single EP and their album just this month, it is amazing that they had HOB almost packed by the time of their set. After talking to some fans, I realized that most are fans of a specific song: “Trojans,” which recently appeared on the “Alternative Songs” chart. Regardless, as the group comes onstage, clouded in fog and blue laser light, the crowd’s applause is genuine and excited.
And man, is it exciting. Genius is great at live performance. They have a strong stage presence, communicate with each other well, and communicate with the audience even better. My personal favorite thing about Genius’ sound is the often-overlooked synth parts. Almost baroque in its harmonies, the keyboard does a fantastic job of flowing between the other three members of the group. For me, the synth pad is what really brings together that unique taste of art-deco sound that Atlas Genius advertises. The fans definitely love it: as the finale of the show started and the riff to “Trojans” began playing, the whole venue erupted in cheers and excitement. Atlas Genius put together a great program with bands that complemented each other beautifully, growing in anticipation like a roller coaster that only goes up. House of Blues did an excellent job of supporting the groups with lights and sound, and I hope that any of these musicians come back to town soon.