Atmosphere & Evidence & Horrorshow
Hi Fi Bar, Sydney
12th May 2012
"Hey what are you doing over there?"
"I'm just waiting for.... he might come out..."
"Who are you waiting for?"
"The guy from that show..."
"Who Slug?? You're waiting for fucking Slug?"
"No... I mean... well.. yeah..."
"I love him."
"Oh my god, he is so fucking ugly!!"
When the show is over I can never go home right away. It's like when the movie ends and I can't walk out of the theatre until the credits finish. I just have to savour that moment as long as possible, because as soon as you step outside, the magic quickly fades away. It's like that for a live show only 100x as strong. Once a live show ends, the moment can never be exactly recreated. Unlike a movie which is designed to be watched over and over again, the feeling, vibe, and atmosphere of a live show are literally lost the minute the music dies. As soon as the lights come on, it's like we're stung with the harsh reality of the situation. It's why sometimes I get nervous as each song passes, because I'm anticipating that ending.
hat do I do to soften this blow?
|Cath and I a little bit excited|
Last month Australia was lucky enough to get a rare visit from the hip hop heavyweights, Rhymesayers themselves. Not only do they have the best name going for a record label, but they are one of the largest independent hip hop record labels in the United States. Although not necessarily in the spot light, the Rhymesayers family has grown since their beginnings in 1995 to include a stellar line up of artists that sell out shows across the country and around the world. The label runs an online and physical store from their home city of Minneapolis as well as hosting their own summer hip hop festival each year since 2008. So which artists did they send to rep Rhymesayers down under? Atmosphere of course, the group who’s been there since the beginning, whose members co-founded the label and Evidence, of Dilated Peoples fame, who recently signed onto the label for his solo projects. Being American, this concert was very special to me, as I had not yet had the opportunity to see Atmosphere although they had performed around the area that I am from several times. Atmosphere is an important group to me, laying the foundation for the love of hip hop that I have today, but I will get into that a bit more later.
|Sluggle breaking it down|
|an avid fan, throwing his hands in the air|
like he just don't care
Why do we say hell yeah? What the fuck is up with that?
Slug made us almost cry, laugh, and feel close to each other. A good example of his lyrics change up was during Sunshine where the line goes, "And every woman looks better in a sundress." On the night it became, "and every woman looks best when she's undressed."
"You guys don't even need me up here, you could just do some Atmosphere karaoke," Slug teased us, as he could see the crowd was screaming out every word. The crowd can really make or break a performance. Not only does the performer take energy from the crowd, but we all feel and absorb the energy in the room. With the help of the artist on stage we can really create something more than what is the sum of it's parts. And that's why we all go to the show, because we just want to feel that thing, and be that thing, and live in that moment. And that well and truly happened in the room that night. We gave Slug what he needed and in turn he gave it back 10 fold. The room certainly had a lot of diehard fans in it, a lot more than I was expecting there to be seeing as we are all the way on the other side of the globe.
|a fire and beers out of cans kind of night|
And so after the show we did wait around. Even in the bitter chill that reminded us of a fast approaching winter, with no jackets, we waited. With the security guards eyeing us off, just wishing that we’d move along, with other hopeful groups of people after the crowds had thinned, we waited. I felt like I was completely on point after the show. Everything was so clear and I remembered everything. Not like the usual bleary, drunken, vague moments I remember from most shows. This was different. Now I felt like something really special was going on and I was ready to talk. So it was lucky that right then Erik Anderson (who was on the keyboards for this performance) came out and walked straight for us.After our casual conversation with Erik, Ant was doing the rounds. Cath and I were sitting on the cold steps, basically freezing to death and still hoping Slug would come out so we could say hi before we made the trek to Canberra. (Yes that night we left Sydney at 1:30am to drive to Canberra for Groovin the Moo the next day.) Ant stopped at the group next to us and said hello. One of the girls asked if the ever play a certain song and he said yes. "In Australia?" she asked. "Yeah I think so." He said. Which was a clue that they definitely vary their show night to night instead of just coming up with a playlist and repeating it at every show for the tour. That flexibility and variety is something that I really respect. It means they are creating a unique experience for each show.
|Us & Tuka|
I butted into the conversation to ask if they ever play, "Like Today." Ant admitted that they do. So I went on to explain that its my favourite track because it's what got me into Atmosphere, but not only that it changed my whole perspective of what hip hop could be back in 2002 when I first heard it. I explained that I had first seen the lyrics written down and I thought it was a poem. Ant seemed really appreciative of what I was saying. We also talked about me being an American now living in Australia and my half and half warped accent.
After some time it seemed that Slug was not coming out so we finally headed. First we got a photo with Ant and Erik with a little help from MC Tuka who was there as just another giddy fan himself.
More than just an opening act
|Rhymesayers & One Dayers|
Horrorshow opening for Atmosphere came as a surprise announcement a couple of weeks before the show. Knowing that Nick especially is a huge Rhymesayers fan I was so excited and happy for them. The first time I met Nick and Adit, a year ago, we had a long conversation about Rhymesayers (Atmosphere and Grieves in particular) so what a great conclusion for me to see my favourite American hip hop group, Atmosphere, and one of my favourite Australian hip hop groups interacting and performing together. It was a fantastic union of my two cultures. It’s like now I’ve come full circle and everything in my life is slowly becoming integrated.
|Grieves & Horrorshow tattoos, thanks Joel|
|Evidence doing his thing|
One bit of advice that I have for you is to follow Evidence on Instagram (@MrEvidence). Not only is he an amazing lyricist but he is an equally good photographer. Not only that but he is an expert at editing photos on iphone. If you don’t know the extent to which some people can edit iphone photos you need to check his out because they are masterpieces. He uses several editing programs on each pic. Check them all out here.
Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better night. The venue was great, the sound was good. For the most part, people behaved themselves. And I was finally able to see the group perform that got me into hip hop as I know it. Atmosphere not only met but exceeded my expectations in so many ways. Slug being so comfortable on stage made everyone comfortable. The way he ad libbed and changed his songs as he went is certainly something that I admire. It didn’t feel like he took himself seriously, and so the whole mood was very light and happy. The light show was fantastic, and the set was quite lengthy and extensive over their whole range of music. (Although I would have liked to hear a couple of tracks from You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having.) I am keen for them to come back again soon and not wait another 13 years!
This video may even have helped Horrorshow out with securing that opening gig. Let's chat about Slug...