However, there are certain common musical traits that many geek rock artists share, although a good number of the bands described as such may display a sound far removed from the considered standard. Such elements include heavy use of synthesisers and electronic keyboards, vocoders, harmonic vocals (and, sometimes, extensive use of female-led backing vocals) and idiosyncratic use of instruments not usually associated with alt-rock, such as accordions. Some mainstream bands that exemplify the geek rock "sound" include They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton, Weezer, Guster, Ben Folds, Fountains of Wayne, and Barenaked Ladies.
In addition, a number of lyrical themes are quite common to the genre, including themes of isolation, loneliness and failing love lives, and a fascination with "geek" pop culture such as comic books, science fiction and fantasy. In addition, significant doses of irony and humor can be found in many geek rock lyrics.
Bands that are considered in the geek rock genre have been almost exclusively American or Canadian, but there have been a few bands from other countries as well. One noteworthy band is Wir sind Helden (We are heroes) from Germany. Wir Sind Helden earned their title as "German Geek Rock" with their music videos for "Guten Tag" and "Nur ein Wort", both of which deal with geek pop culture, dictionaries, and comic books. The song "The Geek (shall inherit)" from their third album makes this inclination explicit.