Atlas Genius & Cayucas @ B Ryders, Bakersfield CA 08/08/13
I didn’t really know what I was in for when Cayucas casually strolled onto the stage. They have one full length album under their belt, BigFoot. They were a relatively new Indie band somewhat in keeping with the stylings of Atlas Genius, but with a quirky surf rock vibe. The guys sound checked their own instruments, there were no roadies or techs whatsoever. Singer Zach Yudin peered out into the crowd with a playful smirk while he tuned his guitar, some of the crowd cheered and in a few minutes the group quickly retreated off the stage. The group came back to a welcoming applause, and they began their set with a very smooth and relaxing quality. It was like the mellow alternative rock of Beck mixed with ’60s surf pop…lots of clean sounding guitar with echo, it was very blue sounding if that makes any sense, playful, yet chill. Zach Yudin crooned and he chanted – lots of “heys” and “hos” in their lyrics. I swear it was like we were transported to a sunny beach, cocktail in one hand, Ipod in the other. It was a Californian sound (I mean, the band is only named CAYUCAS, right?). I was really digging this. And to me it the music suited a live setting. The studio recordings are good and have their own personality, but the live versions were a different animal – the music had greater impact. During the set, Zach said “well this is my first time in Bakersfield, and it’s pretty….amazing.” There was a hint of sarcasm in his voice, but it’s alright 🙂 Later on, during Atlas Genius’ set, I noticed that the guys from Cayucas were at the rear of the venue chatting with fans. I gave up my spot near the front to have a few words with singer Zach Yudin. I shook his hand and told him that I was new to their material but had heard them on the AltNation Channel (Sirius/XM), explaining that I was hooked after seeing them in concert. Zach said rather dryly “…Ohhh, had to see the live show to be convinced, huh.” I gave an assh@le smile and said “YES.” 😀 Luckily I didn’t erk their drummer, Casey Wojtalewicz. If David Bowie and Johnny Depp had a son, he would look like Casey Wojtalewicz. I smiled and said “You guys played a great set.” Casey looked genuinely pleased, gave a Colgate smile, shook my hand and patted me on the shoulder and said “Thanks, man.” The drummers are always class acts. Well, usually (I had a negative Mike Portnoy experience). Songs performed include East Coast Girl, High School Lover and Deep Sea. At least 5 or 6 other selections were performed but I can’t be sure of their titles.
Danny Spanks from KRAB Radio 106.1 came onstage and gave a spirited intro for Atlas Genius. He saluted us with a mighty roar for selling out the show, proving that the Central Valley is NOT dominated by Country and urban music (not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of music). Atlas Genius came onstage to rapturous applause and screams. The Australian quartet greeted the Bako crowd and wasted no time easing into their brand of bouncy and melodic indie rock. The Jeffery brothers were very into their performance and played to the crowd, Vocalist/Guitarist Keith Jeffery was getting as close as possible to the fans near the front of the stage, pacing and posing from left to right. Michael Jeffery on drums laid down his parts with enthusiasm. He rocked an unassuming 4 piece drum kit, a DW Collector’s Series in Red Sparkle finish. Steven Jeffery is the touring bass player, also a sibling, but not an official member of the band. He played well and complimented Keith’s guitar playing. Steven’s bass tone was heavy with mid range and it reminded me of how Andy Rourke’s bass tone complimented Johnny Marr’s shimmery guitar tone in The Smiths. Similarly, Keith and Steven’s playing augmented one another’s and provided the framework for the rhythmic and melodic Atlas Genius sound. This allowed for the keyboards to take a more central role in providing melody and atmospherics. Darren Sell was the touring keyboard player for Atlas Genius. He also happens to be the group’s producer/collaborator who helped get the breakthrough track “Trojans” off the ground. This band rose to fame thanks to a modern grass roots approach to privately producing and distributing their music. “Trojans” was basically a homegrown recording and it was pushed to the digital market. Even without a record deal or a full length album, Atlas Genius gained fans at an extraordinary rate and download sales for the single skyrocketed. Satellite and local radio took notice, with AltNation providing the perfect forum for this band’s music. The following singles fared just as well, my personal favorite being the ambient and anthemic “Symptoms.” It’s easy to get hooked on this group. The sound is an exuberant, polished and melodic type of alternative rock. The vocal harmonies are sweet sounding without being too syrupy, the keyboard melodies, guitar lines, as well as the bouncy drum parts were all infectious. You can hear the sophisticated yet danceable ska of The Police in their music, as well as the pure power pop of The Beatles. Regarding the rhythm section, particularly the drums, Michael uses a lot of 16th note patterns on the hi-hat, making for more exciting phrasings (this was the Stewart Copeland formula in The Police). And Keith’s guitar work was bright and shimmery, he rarely played lead or did showy guitar work, however the chords were stylized, rhythmic and pretty sounding. The brothers were all smiles and enjoying themselves (Darren is a VERY serious character and rarely smiled). As for the venue, B. Ryders is a tiny little place. It’s a bar & grill type establishment, with tables pushed back to the rear of the main room and the bar area tucked away at the far right. Even at the rear of the main room, I was still a mere 100 feet away from the stage or less. The sound was EXCELLENT. Everyone came in crystal clear, it was if we were listening to the studio versions of the songs. The crowd was younger, college kids mostly, there were plenty of Fresno State Bulldog and Bakersfield State shirts in the crowd. Keith Jeffery thanked Cayucas and The Happy Hollows for opening the show. Keith added “What is it about these California bands?” The set was brief but powerful. Not bad a for a band that has only one EP and an upcoming album to their name. It was cool to be a part of the beginning of this group. Who knows what’s in store for them in the future.
On a Day
Centered on You
All These Girls
Through the Glass
Don’t Make a Scene
The first 4 shots were taken by me, while this last shot was taken by an unknown fan and posted online.