Winning ugly: Tahoe lands Atmosphere for Tuesday night show
April 16, 2009
Yes we can, yes we shall, yes we will: Lake Tahoe, the smallest stop on the “When God Gives You Ugly” Tour, has landed lauded alternative hip-hop duo Atmosphere for a show Tuesday, April 21, between stops Saturday in San Francisco and Wednesday, in Portland, Ore. Minneapolis MC P.O.S. will open, and a live band will back up Slug and Ant onstage at the MontBleu.
“It seems like every tour, he’s playing bigger and bigger venues, said promoter “LateNite” Billy Drewitz. “That’s why I worked hard to get him in one of the casino showrooms. The show’s incredible.”
Atmosphere has already sold out the Catalyst in Santa Cruz.
According to Wikipedia, Atmosphere traces its roots to Washburn High School in Minneapolis, where Sean Daley met Derek Turner and Brent Sayers. As Slug, Spawn and Stress, the three would become the core of the Rhymesayers hip-hop collective, which has gone on to produce records for the likes of Brother Ali (Atmosphere’s tourmate for the next two weeks) and MS Doom. The trio performed first as Mental Subject, then Arhythmic Culture, then Urban Atmosphere, with Slug on turntables and Spawn rapping before Turner persuaded Daley to contribute verses.
Daley met Anthony Davis when he went to his house to record a track, and soon Slug and Spawn were recording with the beatmaker. Along with Beyond (later Musab) and Mr. Gene Pool, Ant became a member of Rhymesayers. As Headshots, the group released seven cassettes, and Slug, Spawn and Stress were making appearances on the likes of NPR’s “All Things Considered” by 1996.
Soon after the release of “Overcast!” in 1997 first exposed audiences outside the Twin Cities to Atmosphere, Spawn left the group. (He now performs as Rek the Heavyweight.)
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Atmosphere built its reputation with airplay on college radio and ferocious touring, once driving from Minneapolis to Dallas to earn $250 for a show. Touring provides the basis for the lyrics for Atmosphere’s 2003 album, “Seven’s Travels.”
The Lake Tahoe Action wannabes over at Rolling Stone gushed, “One can feel Atmosphere loosening modern hip-hop from its moorings and yanking it into some weirder and far more interesting place,” in a review of the 2003 album.
After “Overcast!” Slug joined Sole, Alias and Doseone to record as Deep Puddle Dynamics a project of Oakland’s anticon label. The rapper also maintains an association with Bay Area underground stars Living Legends, especially Murs, with whom he has recorded tributes to actresses Christina Ricci and Lisa Bonet as Felt.
Slug found a lyrical touchstone with two EPs that merged into the “Lucy Ford” LP.
Slug originally introduced Lucy as a pseudonym for his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child, but the character has evolved into a metaphor for all women, substances, politics and hip-hop.
In front of Ant’s soulful beats, Slug has earned nearly universal praise as a lyricist.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “As a front-man, the charismatic Slug has matured into one of hip-hop’s best performers,” while Entertainment Weekly wrote, “With passionate inflection and pristine delivery, Slug toggles neatly among the poetic, preachy, and provocative, sometimes hitting all at once.”
For its last tour, Atmosphere debuted a new band, and live instrumentation will accompany Ant and Slug onstage at the MontBleu.
The duo’s most recent release, “When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That S— Gold,” finds Slug branching out from his personal ” sometimes confessional ” lyrics to rhyme from the viewpoint of other characters.
The current tour, which began April 9 in Missoula, Mont., celebrates Atmosphere’s 2008 release and the recent re-release of its 2001 album.
“One thing I’ve learned in my career is booking your favorite bands can bite you in the butt because they’re not always everybody else’s favorite bands, but in this case, it’s a pretty safe bet,” Drewitz said.
Who: Atmosphere with P.O.S.
When: Tuesday, April 21, doors open at 8 p.m.
Where: MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa
Tickets: $25, at MontBleu’s box office or http://www.ticketweb.com