Review: Atmosphere live at Stubb’s

Atmosphere performed at Stubb’s, Monday, May 2 in Austin, Texas. Opening for the indie rapper were other Rhymesayers members, including DJ Abilities, Sab the Artist, Grieves and Budo and Blueprint.

Gregory Keltgen, better known as DJ Abilities, is well known in the Midwest for being one of the best battle DJs in the local scene. Along with working with the late Eyedea in Eyedea and Abilities Keltgen has made a name for himself as a talented DJ. Sab the Artist brings hip hop back to the age of just having fun. Originally starting off with the name Beyond Sab co-founded Rhymesayers Entertainment and has helped in making the label what it is today.

Grieves and Budo are a duo that pushes the boundaries of hip hop. Multi-instrumentalist Budo provides soulful horns, keys and guitar, while Grieves raps about the difficulties and joys of being on the road and back at home. Blueprint is a critically acclaimed rapper who has released his latest album Adventures in Counter-Culture. Blueprint manages to remain innovative, combining synths, keyboards, drum machines and his own unique rapping ability to create something that is fresh and enjoyable.

Atmosphere should be a name that everyone knows. Take a listen to songs such as “Say Hey There” or “Trying to Find a Balance,” and you will understand why Atmosphere is at the forefront of independent hip hop. Comprised of rapper Slug (Sean Daley) and DJ Ant (Anthony Davis), along with touring members Erick Anderson (keyboards) and Nate Collins (guitar), Atmosphere is a combination of Slug’s introspective rapping style and the soulful sounds of contributing band members.

Sab and his brother and DJ Ganzobean got the party started.  Charismatic, fun and enjoyable Sab had people moving along to his rhymes. Sampling Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks,” “Lookin’ at Girls” was a nice treat as Sab rapped about how he cannot stop looking at girls. Sab the Artist started off the night right with their good-natured rhymes and party-friendly beats.

In between sets was DJ Abilities, who combined samples from Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” Beastie Boy’s “Paul Revere” and the ever so famous “Bed Intruder” song. Fans were impressed by DJ Abilities’ turn tabling and mixing of fan-favorite samples.

Grieves and Budo immediately pulled everyone in as they started with “Bloody Poetry.” Producing soulful keyboard and trumpet sounds Budo was switching instruments every second while Grieves laid down his rhymes.

Following Grieves and Budo was Blueprint who kept the energy high. Playing songs off his latest album, Blueprint had the crowd going absolutely wild with synth-heavy songs such as “Automatic.” Add in a bass player and a DJ, and you have an even more enjoyable performance. Blueprint’s performance became even better as he strapped on a keytar and went into “So Alive.” Showing off his skills as a keytarist, Blueprint moved around while singing “so so alive” during the chorus. Smiling at the audience Blueprint began playing “Radio-Inactive” on the keyboards. “So thank God for every fan, every single listener,” rapped Blueprint as he pointed out to everyone in the audience, the crowd producing a loud scream that brought an even larger smile to Blueprint’s face.

Up next was the one and only Atmosphere who began the show with “Until the Nipples Gone.” Instantly everyone was jumping and clapping as Slug and the rest of the group immediately took control of the audience. “Hello Austin, Texas. It’s Atmosphere,” yelled Slug. Going into “Between the Lines,” Slug had everyone saying the chorus.

“I like when the lights are low, because I can’t see any of you. We are all the same,” said Slug as the group went into “Sunshine.” The group did not miss anything, and Slug’s rhymes and charisma only made this fan-favorite song that much more enjoyable.

Slug then threw another one at us; Anderson and Collins played some improvisational parts before laying down the groove to “Puppets.” “Cut those strings,” yelled Slug as he went into the first verse.

Keeping the energy up Anderson started playing the piano part for “God Loves Ugly,” and the crowd yelled. Ant was bobbing his head and really getting into it with one cigarette in mouth. “God loves ugly,” shouted the audience as Slug smiled. “Go to sleep my little time bomb,” yelled Slug as the lights dimmed and the crowd continued screaming.

“Y’all are too live for me. I’m actually intimidated now,” said Slug. With Ant and Anderson walking offstage, Slug and Collins went into “Guarantees.” “My shorty got caught smokin’ weed at a concert, Nicki Minaj is a mother effin’ monster,” rhymed Slug smoothly and without thought, making audience members laugh at his reference.

“Right now we are all a community. We are family. You came here tonight to take your mind off problems and have a good time. It’s a beautiful thing” said Slug as the group went into “Lovelife.”

Yelling “Atmosphere” and “Slug,” the group came back onstage and gave an encore that left the audience satisfied. Collins started off “Trying to Find a Balance” with the whole group following suit. “In the days of Kings and Queens, I was a jester,” sang Slug as everyone in the audience and the balcony replied with, “treat me like a God, oh they treat me like a leper,” during the chorus.

Ending their performance with “Yesterday,” Atmosphere could not have chosen a better song. Intimate, heart-felt and perfect, Slug’s delivery was just like how it is on the recording. Sending chills down my back Anderson’s piano part was right-on, its soulful, happy sound underneath Slug’s rhymes about missing his father. “I thought I saw you yesterday, but i knew it wasn’t you, cause you passed away, Dad,” rhymed Slug with so much conviction it could be felt.

From working at a record store and doing overnight shifts to support his son to playing sold-out venues, Slug’s experiences can be followed through his music. Knowing that he would not be where he is without the support of his fans, Slug makes sure that every one of his fans gets either a picture or a handshake. “Get ready to have fun tonight,” said Slug as fans entered Stubb’s, a smile on his face as he walked up to fans who wanted a hug, picture or both. This is what makes Atmosphere great.

Creating enjoyable music, giving their fans a good show and actually interacting with their fans is what made their performance much more intimate and entertaining. As Slug said, “we are all family.” The faces of teenagers and adults smiling as they exited Stubb’s shows that Atmosphere did not disappoint their “family” in Austin. Atmosphere is the life of the party, regardless of bad weather.

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