December 10, 2017. It wasn’t a particularly cold, late fall night when the line to get into the Atmosphere show at the Ogden ran two blocks. The previous time the hip-hop duo played in Colorado it was probably headlining at Red Rocks or a similarly large venue. At the end of the line an unpre-possessing guy who came up to say hello to people. He was dressed like everyone else but he had an artist’s badge on and at first a number of people in line didn’t really knew who he was because he sure didn’t say, “Hey, it’s me, Sean Daley, Slug, you’re coming to see me tonight.” He just talked to people and said thank you for coming to the show and took as many pictures and shook as many hands as he could until he had to leave to go get ready for the performance. Not many artists do this sort of thing but maybe more should.
Later, throughout the powerful and playful performance, song by song, Slug and Ant laid out a sensibiliy in the music that goes beyond the whole “we’re just like you” presentation. More than a poetic stream-of-consciousness diary entry set to beats aesthetic. More than the “we’re only here because of you” gratitude platitude. It was we’re here with our people who identify with our expressed flaws, potentially problematic feelings at different times of our lives because that level of reality and coming to terms with our entire selves is more important and relatable than a manufactured, finely curated image. There is some of that because it’s a show, after all, and not some hyper real documentary that wouldn’t really be interesting to see on stage. But from demonstrating a very human care for fans as people earlier before the show to the beautiful, short-Colorado-tour-specific merch (see below for the t-shirt), Atmosphere let us know they mean it.
Even though Atmosphere is kind of big time hip-hop act these days, it spent many years incubating in the underground either as Atmosphere or in previous projects where grassroots connection with fans is all you have. Good thing to know Ant and Slug remembered what it felt like to have that connection even if you can’t talk to literally everyone after a show and some of the boring merch some bands peddle with just their name and maybe a merely okay design. It’s the details and touches that aren’t so obvious that distinguishes Atmosphere from some of their peers. With an extensive set list that spanned much of the group’s career, Atmosphere didn’t skimp on on the fans in that regard either.