Words by: Justin Clark | Images by: Mark Davidson
Atmosphere :: 05.17.09 :: Beachland Ballroom :: Cleveland, OH
Waiting in line I was shocked by how young and devoted Atmosphere fans are. Their ages ranged from 16 to 28 and their styles from high school outcasts to post graduate working class. An unquestionable universal was the all important backwards cap and an affinity for substance abuse. Upon approaching the stage, all eyes were drawn to the oversized banner of misfit waitresses reaping havoc on customers, which instantly reminded me of Miguel Calderón's paintings from The Royal Tenenbaums.
To the music: As soon as Slug stood center stage the chant for "Atmosphere" transformed into the revelry of elation and hand waving. After the command to, "Let me see your finger tips, and make sure your neighbor has a good time. Keep your feet on the floor. Don't fight, put your energy into making a baby instead," the show bellowed into a party. Once Ant threw his deepest beats and everyone's knees gave out; it was impossible not to dance. Every white kid incapable of keeping the beat was rattling their bones as Slug's crisp, clear vocals overtook the room which found the crowd roaring back and almost overpowered him with their memorized lyric unison.
A raw lyrical truth had motivated this sold out crowd to give deep respect to this group which has taken negative aspects of life and transformed them into a positive outlet for all ages, similar to the once strong grunge scene in Seattle. The surrounding band was underused in this particular music venue; since it wasn't an outdoor, neo-hippie festival, the lyricist stood the main attraction. That said, I did find myself enjoying the guitar riffs, piano breakdowns and female back-up vocals, which oddly reminded me of The Pixies.
Slug emitted sweat from every visible pore, all with a smirk of elation, which I could only credit to his love of throwing a kickin' party. He played off his performance with an average white guy persona with just enough egotism to make it in the underground hip-hop community.
Continue reading for a few more pics of Atmosphere in Ohio...