By Daniel Paiz
But if we gotta die tonight, I might take a couple extra breaths-Slug of Atmosphere on “Where The Road Forks“
Ant and Plain Ole Bill play the opening notes from the 2020 criminally slept on album The Day Before Halloween, entitled “Where The Road Forks”. A sold-out Red Rocks venue buzzes with excitement and cheers, for they know they are about to make party with these two and Slug, the guys from Atmosphere. Red Rocks is a special place to make party, and this lineup was one for the ages.
There was everything for everyone: fans of (somewhat) underground artists (Sol Messiah, Sa-Roc, DJ Abilities). That retro 90s vibe was alive and well (The Far Side, fka Pharcyde). Plus, some rapper guy who is going to be actively involved in some curriculum at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Lupe Fiasco is at MIT this Fall, FYI). To regurgitate the night play by play might be a bit anticlimactic. Instead, let’s revisit bits here and there.
Goddess GANG, GANG, GANG, GANG
Sa-Roc and Sol Messiah are one of those duos that have an energy about them that cannot be replicated. They know each other so well and their set was the perfect way to start this night out. What stood out the most for the wordsmith that is Sa-Roc was “Goddess Gang”, a track that those in attendance familiar with the emcee were overjoyed to hear.
Sa has been making albums and touring for a long time, and to see around a third of the audience know her material is a wonderful sign. The Atlanta artist delivered on song after song, interacting with the crowd and delivering her genuine self. That’s something that’s very reminiscent of the headliner.
Shifting gears from lyrically snapping to wrecking decks with ease, DJ Abilities amped the crowd up even more. His tribute to his late great partner Eydea (RIP) drew in the crowd. From remixing E-40 to Rage Against The Machine to Daft Punk, every kind of turntablism you could expect Abilities showcased. A bigger surprise for me was who Abilities performed with next.
The Far Side (fka Pharcyde) placed everyone in a time machine. As soon as that retro 90s Hip Hop door swung open, these guys made me feel like I was in the 90s again, only this time not so young. Plenty of records were fun and nostalgic, but nothing moved the crowd like “Runnin'” and “Passin’ Me By”.
“Professor, you have a call on line one”
People are going to like what they like and badgering them to change won’t really help. My heartfelt request of fans of the headliner, however, is that you try to match the energy of the artist before you. There were lots of fans there grooving and scooting to the intricately acrobatic rhymes laid before us by Carerra Lu, by the flag bearer of First and Fifteen, by the MIT-bound Lupe Fiasco.
Fiasco has few equals in the Rap game today, and there’s a big reason why Atmosphere added him to the Red Rocks lineup. Lu knew this crowd, and after dropping a few classics (“Kick, Push”, “Freedom Ain’t Free”), proceeded to deliver “Go Go Gadget Flow” and started but stopped the N.E.R.D-produced “I Gotcha”. If you know “Kick, Push” then you know “I Gotcha” is right after that on Food & Liquor.
Fiasco likely paused due to catching his breath due to the altitude, but the crowd response for “I Gotcha” could’ve also been a factor. It’s likely why tracks like “Out of My Head” and “Hip-Hop Saved My Life” were up next instead of riskier joints like “Little Weapon” or “Promise” (although seeing Nikki Jean for “Hip-Hop” was a special moment). The Chicago rapper got the entire crowd on his side stating Atmosphere is “one of the best Hip-Hop groups of all time” and that’s a fair statement. Making party shortly ensued with the Minneapolis group.
From Halloween to Yesterday
There really wasn’t an era of Atmosphere that went untouched, other than the newest album “Word?”. Slug made all of the faces he enjoys making at the audience, while also thanking them for being there. “God Loves Ugly”, “Shoulda Known”, “Yesterday” all made appearances. Slug also reminded people about the importance of testing the drugs one might be consuming, very similar to statements made this time last year.
There’s a sense of almost, dare I say relief for Slug when he’s playing Red Rocks. The comfortability Atmosphere as a whole has with the crowd is evident in each performance over the past two years. If you have not experienced Atmosphere in concert yet, it should be added to your concert list. If you have, then you know why people return for more helpings of Dad jokes and flows.