Atmosphere at The Pageant, 8/17/11

A previous Atmosphere show.
The Pageant
August 17, 2011

Roughly twenty years into their career, the guys in Atmosphere still exploit the attitude that comes with cornering a niche in modern hip-hop that doesn't depend entirely on being white. Last night's show at The Pageant was not safe for work on any level: The duo's frontman and songwriter spent every moment not whole-bodily pushing R-rated panache addressing the audience in a series of curse words that would make a sailor's cell phone blush. Although the night's attendance was slim -- less than half The Pageant's capacity -- the show reeked of nostalgia and forged persona in a way that surprised even the pit's core fist-pounders.

"It's been a little bit. How you been?" MC Slug introduced the night before unleashing a plan he would return to, with extra profanity, throughout the remainder of the set. "First things first: Let's put a smile on your fucking face."

Even with a generous amount of audience provocation, Slug and producer Ant propelled the show at break-neck speed through a setlist that forced attention to the group's newer material while still touring the emotional hits. The first half hour alone found the group aggressively plunging into nine songs, chiding the audience members near the bar ("Why are you fucking sitting on your ass?"), lecturing a less enthusiastic clapper to the right of the stage ("Even you, buddy. Clap your fucking hands."), waxing vulgar on their last show in St. Louis two years ago and instituting a strict no-crowdsurfing policy: "You look like a fucking idiot, and you have shitty sneakers. Stop crowdsurfing. That said, I love you and want to have sex with you."

While Slug admitted a drinking binge in Cincinnati the previous night almost kept the duo from performing, the show that began with "Until the Nipple's Gone" traveled through heavy hitters such as "Sunshine," "Guns and Cigarettes" and "Puppets" between bouts of newer material. They were backed by a bewildering aesthetic choice: The guys knocked out rhythm and rhyme in front of a faux tree and a background forest scene while Ant danced, headphones tucked into his neck, as though he were invited to a reunion at the Hacienda.

Atmosphere never let the fervor slip, and a crowd that's consistently riled up is unlikely to notice the chinks in the armor. But the frenzy was betrayed by a tired ambience, and the guys have not aged well, likely because of drinking binges in Cincinnati. The duo's dynamic depends heavily upon Slug doing literally all of the front-end work while Ant smoothly breaks things down in the back, and though the additional keyboardist and guitarist increased the dimensions, the stale internal interaction eventually drifted into the night's mildly depressing and overtly emotional undertow.

Perhaps the most difficult feat of the performance, however, was simply the lineup. The Minneapolis duo was introduced by Prof, Blueprint and Evidence, three more humble, more earnest, more sinister rap outfits that tapped into an increasingly spiritual niche in modern rap with fewer antics and less production than the headliners. They stayed sexy where Atmosphere was blunt, alternated hard and soft where Atmosphere fronted violent metaphors and overall remained more relevant than lyrics about weed shops closing and women undressing. But they pushed themselves harder than they pushed the audience, and in a venue packed only in the pit, that matters most.

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Mason Trenton
Mason Trenton

Yo, you gotta be shitting all over my dick with that metaphor, "...would have made a sailor's cell phone blush." What in God's name does that even mean? Sailor's can't even fucking use a cell phone for the majority of their tour(s). You're English teachers/professors probably told you to stay away from cliches when/if you were in class, which is why you chose to invent your own (fucking abysmal) cliche. I think this piece of so called "journalism" is the brain child of an individual who doesn't understand the culture of hiphop. Hiphop is born from the animosities felt by a generation of American citizens that feel, with some justice, abused, betrayed, harassed, and spat upon by the individuals whom write the laws and ideals of this nation. This extends to feeling animosity towards those that benefit from those injustices. Slug's "intensity" is an expression of controlled anguish that's wedded a profound love both for the music and the fans. Learn your place Kelsey: write about something you understand thoroughly before you end up chastising another group with an infamously loyal fan base.

Chris Orndoff
Chris Orndoff

This writer is an asshole. Guess what Kelsey? There are a lot of shit local writers who could easily write a better line than you. Atmosphere isn't a duo. Did you not see the band Slug and Ant were with? Atmosphere is not just two people anymore, and they haven't been for a fucking long time now. Oops I said fuck. Fuck, that fucking sucks. No, you suck, and you have obviously aged horribly--regardless of how old you are. And what the fuck does "The Pageant was not safe for work on any level" mean? You and the Bartenders were the only people working that night. Atmosphere was living in another world, and the fans were too--and the bartenders I ordered from were having a great time making tips and enjoying a group of Artists give their best for a large, motivated crowd.  You think that shit Article above was worth it? Are things ok at the RFT? I'm just a hobby writer with a fucking dictionary and spell check, but I'll buy you a beer at the next Atmosphere show if it will ease the work load. You are prolly really, really old, so I'm sorry Gramps, but like I said it doesn't matter, you are a bitter-local music writer...GREAT FUCKING JOB, DICK.Editors, fire this dick and hire a more mature asshole to write your bullshit. Atmosphere, PLEASE COME BACK ASAP!


It was a hip hop show on a Tuesday night in a city that prefers classic rock and country. Of course it wasn't a sell out show. I think everyone there was a big fan of not only Atmosphere but hip hop itself. I thought all four acts really brought it (I'm a f***in animal!) and Slug was smart, hard, funny, insightful... basically his amazing self. He even commented on the fact that we were live for a Tuesday night in Cincy. I've seen them a few times and I can say that I loved the intimate concert.


Slug was as good as ever last night.  maybe you should try writing about things you like from now on.  you're a hater.

try and put a smile on that face..


Damn who the fuck pissed in your Apple Jacks last night? It wasn't packed, but it was absolutely a perfect environment.  The pit was jumping all night, elsewhere people were dancing and enjoying the extra space.  


If you're complaining about too many F-bombs you obviously don't get Slug.  He's an intense guy, but his intensity comes from a place of love.  What about mentioning that how Slug's anger toward the crowdsurfer was because he thought that no concertgoer deserves to be kicked in the back of the head by some idiot?  What about appreciating Slug's comment about "for many of us, I know this is as about close to church we get."  I thought it was sincere and true.


Also worth mentioning was Evidence bringing up an audience member on stage to rap a song with him after being contacted on Twitter.  How cool was that?


Perhaps you just had a little sand in your vagina last night, no big whoop. 

Chris Orndoff
Chris Orndoff

That show was great! Lets get this dick fired. HAHAHAHA! I truly wish...

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