Atmosphere | 5.21.09

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atmosphere2.jpgIt's funny that with a 20 minute "encore", no one seemed like they even wanted to leave the stage.


























 Photos: Bryan J. Sutter


The Pageant, St. Louis

The tail end of a tour can be just as exciting as the beginning. Sometimes you can sense that those on the roster are riding a new wave of enthusiasm, knowing in just a few short days they'll be sleeping in their own beds once again; or they're road worn and doing their best to pull through without disappointing. Both instances tend to make for great shows, playing on different emotions and extremes. On the second to last night of the Spring When God Gives You Ugly tour it could've been the first, with a packed floor and a whole lot of love from both sides of the stage.

Attracted To Gods, a sort of Southern-rock meets Black Keys duo, seemed like an odd choice at first but singer/guitarist Nate Collis showed that he can hold his own with drummer Brian McLeod and as Atmosphere's six-string samurai. While entirely entertaining, Attracted To Gods best served as a stimulating contrast for the rest of the night.

Brother Ali has been gaining respect over the last few years and it's become apparent that at any moment he may solidify himself as one of the forerunners of modern indie hip hop, if he hasn't already. With a swagger and voice as if Lyrics Born never left us, it's hard to not get captivated by the only man in jean shorts worth your time. With only Ant backing him up, Ali had a whole stage to use and he used it well. Throwing a few tracks up from The Undisputed Truth along with "Good Lord" from Truth Is Here, Ali gave a near flawless performance. Both times when he busted freestyle, it was impossible to ignore his flow and passion. I've seen rappers get frustrated with St. Louis crowds before and it was obvious that his music was hitting lot of virgin ears but he only had to hint his frustration, with a notable amount of tact, to get the crowd's full attention. By the end of the set it was apparent that Brother Ali was speaking to the newly converted.

Atmosphere hasn't been around St. Louis since 2002, or so Slug says, so it makes perfect sense the look of amazement on his face when he pulls the mic away in the presence of more testosterone and polo shirts than anyone could ever imagine inside The Pageant. It couldn't have started off any better than with "God Loves Ugly," which instantly got hands in the air and eyes on the man in charge. From there they played "Guarantees," "Modern Man's Hustle," "Puppets," and "Fuck You Lucy;" jumping between material from God Loves Ugly and When Life Gives You Lemons You Paint That Shit Gold seamlessly. The live band, with Collis on guitar, Mankwe Ndosi on vocals, and Erick Anderson on keys, definitely made the difference and it was obvious that they all fed off each other.

While "Shoulda Known" and "The Waitress" proved euphoric the real highlight was "Yesterday," one of the few songs where the crowd didn't match Slug word for word but instead let the man give a somber, chilling performance of one of Atmosphere's best. Forgoing a typical encore, Slug brought out Brother Ali and they proceeded to wreck it and freestyle. It's funny that with a 20 minute "encore," no one seemed like they even wanted to leave the stage. It's cliche to say that it all went beyond a show and became an experience but sometimes shit's a cliche and that's alright. | Bryan J. Sutter

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