Lovers Lane
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Atmosphere live!

| April 30, 2008

Metro, Chicago
Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to see life imitating art in the case of Minneapolis hip-hop outfit Atmosphere. After all, the group’s just-released record is titled When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, which might explain the impressive level of output released by co-conspirators Slug and Ant within the last year — a year that has seen four fairly consistant EPs (some moreso than others), one mix tape/album (the free downloadable Strictly Leakage), and an impressive proper new record added on to the Atmosphere discography. All of which provided plenty of different arenas for Atmosphere frontman Slug during his group’s recent stop at the Metro, the second of two.


The evening found the Atmosphere crew balancing older and more beloved fare alongside newer but no less worthwhile material. Visiting the group’s seasonal-themed EP releases, selections like Sad Clown Bad Summer Number 9‘s laid-back, feel-good anthem, “Summertime,” epitomized the warm, inviting vibe of the night while “The Rooster,” off SCBF Number 10, stood alongside the best selections of the evening. The group also spent plenty of time with Lemons* material, such as the gospel-recalling “Puppets,” made all the more haunting by the backing vocals of touring member Mankwe Ndosi. The dark, ominous undertones of “The Skinny,” a story of women held under the control of an abusive pimp, carried even more weight in a live setting.

Yet, for as strong as the group’s recent material may be, a sizable portion of the room came out for older, more classic Atmosphere. And while it’s hard to please everyone, Slug and co. should get points for trying. Bouncing between Seven’s Travels (the dark and sorrowful “Always Coming Back Home To You”), Lucy Ford: The Atmosphere EPs (“Guns And Cigarettes,” complete with a “Fuck You Lucy” tease) and God Loves Ugly (the surefire, crowd-pleasing title track).

It’s easy to cling to an artist’s classic works. Yet, not only are Atmosphere improving, on EP or album, but every new effort expands into previously unexplored terrain, which, in turn, translates live. Judging by the level of quality displayed Wednesday night, it’ll be exciting to see what Slug and crew paint next.

Jaime de’Medici

Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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