It’s hard to say who was better. It was less than a year ago that I first heard of Imagine Dragons and then saw them play the Independent to a mixed crowd of old and young. It was less than six months ago that I first heard of Atlas Genius, the Australian band whose debut album When It Was Now is taking the Indie world by storm and turning Australia into a musical juggernaut. They played together Saturday night at the Warfield in San Francisco to a sold out crowd. Saying sold out is like saying the Mona Lisa is a nice painting. This show sold out in about an hour and with the ascension of these two bands it surprised no one.
We arrived right before Atlas Genius took the stage. Nico Vega was the opener, but who is going to arrive to a show at 8 pm on a Saturday night? Not I, music lovers, not I. We arrived and the scene was awash in young teenage boys and girls scorned by the thought of a Beiber fueled world, rebelling against the tenets of teenage pop madness and seeking out greater music on a higher plain. Whether it is good parenting or good music minded youngsters in the Bay Area there were some avid music fans there.
Atlas Genius hit the stage with such magnificent aplomb that when it finished I was left confounded that I had not discovered them sooner. I revel in my knowledge of music. I feel it is one of my main qualities, which is probably why I was single for as long as I was, before I met my wonderful girlfriend. I want to know everything about music, just suck the marrow from it and really know who everyone up and coming, everyone important, just everything. This time I didn’t find out until the masses did and that is a huge failure on my part, because they are so unbelievably talented it’s disgusting.
Keith moved around the stage like a man running marathon, bounding from one side to the other stopping in the middle to take a breath and then back to running again. It was like an inmate on his thirty minute break, but Keith was dynamic with his movements. He stood above the crowd, sang to them not at them and as they sang out it was a scene that gave me chills. I saw this last year with Imagine Dragons right before they blew up. Nice segue let’s go with it.
After Atlas Genius finished their set with their hit song “Trojans” there was the break then Imagine Dragons came to a stage decorated like we were on safari. Trees, like the kind you’d see in a desert were the backdrop to a blue lit stage as the boys meandered their way towards the center and just started blasting. It was a display similar to what I saw last year, but on a grander scale and with a much younger crowd. They ran through an amazing array of their minimal discography and they played so well to the crowd that I did something I rarely do (probably stupid on my part) and that’s put in my ear plugs. The music was loud, sure, but the crowd was louder.
I’ve been to hundreds of concerts in my life from small shows to arena extravaganzas and never, not ever, not once, in all of those shows I’ve been to, have I ever seen a crowd sing every single word to every single song. Not just a few people, but everyone. There were the mostly young 15-20 year old singing everything, but also the older folks in the rafters, the 30-60 year olds singing and dancing like these were the Beatles. It was crazy. At Springsteen shows there are a handful of songs everyone sings, it’s like clockwork when “Born to Run” comes on the place explodes. This band, though, tapped into something with this crowd, though and they ran with it. It was a festival for the senses. Geniuses and dragons be damned, this night was about the fans and boy did they get their money’s worth.