I started listening to Atmosphere back in 2007 after a recommendation of a friend. While I had always been into hip-hop, Atmosphere really opened the window for me into the world of underground hip-hop, and pushed my away from the more commercialised hip-hop that most people relate to the genre. My initial Atmosphere favourites were Always Coming Back Home To You (his first song I heard) and Trying to Find a Balance, but it wasn’t long before I discovered some of the lighter tunes filled with meaningful lyrics that I had never really heard before in hip-hop. Before I knew it Atmosphere was my favourite hip-hop artist, and that’s why I looked forward with such excitement when I heard that Atmosphere would be touring Australia and New Zealand with a stop in my home town Melbourne, nearly five years after I first discovered them.
The show at The Hi-Fi was opened by a Melbourne-based rapper called Eloquor, who I had never heard of before. He threw out some good rhymes and it was interesting to hear that he is also a teacher at Caulfield Park Community School. His performance was followed by Evidence, a rapper from California and member of rap group Dilated Peoples and part of popular underground label Rhymesayers (producing other great hip-hop acts such as Brother Ali, Grieves and of course Atmosphere). He rocked the place pretty well and got the crowd prepared for Atmosphere. He played two of my favourite songs of his, The Red Carpet and You, both from his latest album Cats & Dogs.
Atmosphere started his show with the song Became from his latest album, a song I really like for its creepy lyrics and cryptic meaning. After that he was straight into the show, throwing out rhyme after rhyme with a few short words between songs. He definitely seemed to focus on his harder stuff and got the crowd involved with brief stories and interactions.It’s interesting to see Slug on stage as you really notice in his communication with the crowd that he really is just a regular guy, and he’s pretty much out there having fun and doing a job he loves. He threw in some occasional humour that went down well with the crowd and got plenty of laughs.
One of the elements that really gives Atmosphere an awesome edge as a rap group is their supporting band consisting of keyboardist Erick Anderson and guitarist Nate Collis, who featured on the recording of The Family Sign. This makes it a real cool hip-hop experience. Instead of just having a DJ with backing tracks and a bit of mixing, you get real guitar and keyboard sounds for beats. This was especially cool when the song Guarantees was performed which has a heavy guitar beat. While not one of my favourite studio songs, I have to say as far as the live performance went this one was one of my favourite songs of the show. Along with this, I also really liked his performances of my two favourite Atmosphere songs, Sunsine and Yesterday, and also thought the performances of Always Coming Back Home To You and Little Man were great.
While I enjoyed so much of this show and wouldn’t in any way say I was unsatisfied with the performance, one thing I did miss from Atmosphere was some close-up interaction that I’ve experienced at other concerts. While Evidence had a fan up on stage to share some of his music, I felt Slug seemed to keep his distance. Not saying I expected him to have fans up on stage, but nearly every hip-hop show I’ve been to has at least had a hand out for a high-five or getting close up to the front row. I also really wished he would have sung more of his new stuff from The Family Sign. Being his new album, I expected him to be promoting it and I know it hasn’t been well received by some of his fans, but I feel this is some of his most meaningful stuff and hearing it live might change their opinion of it to the better. Atmosphere really stuck to a lot of the older, harder songs than the meaningful, softer tunes.
Overall I think it was a really great show, and an awesome performance from both Evidence and Atmosphere. It was fun and full of energy, with a crowd that really got into the show. While some other bands and performers I have seen live I would recommend anyone to see them if they get the chance (fan or not), I do feel that with Atmosphere it is much more suited to a fan or at the least a hip-hop follower. I would definitely see him again and would love to see him perform to a much more packed crowd in North America, or at a North American musical festival.
Thanks Atmosphere for a great show!