Atmosphere, Evidence House of Blues September 22, 2011
Aftermath is pretty sure that this indie/hip hop genre is the next big thing. Here's why: Firstly, it's much catchier and original than most of the rap you'll hear on the radio; secondly, it incorporates live musicians actually playing instruments, which is a rarity in the world of rap acts; and lastly, it's refreshing that those who pursue this genre are not worried about acting "gangsta."
Instead, it all blends together into a refreshingly new-age mix of beats that old-school hip hop lovers can bob their heads to, lyricism that fratty fans don't think is over their heads and enough rhymes about sweet Mary Jane to make even an old Jimi Hendrix fan's ears perk up.
That's how we see it, anyway.
Thursday night, a scattered but very enthusiastic crowd visited House of Blues to see and hear the Twin Cities' Atmosphere, the duo that, despite their youthful appearance and young-at-heart lyrics, have been a driving force of Minnesota's hip-hop scene for more than two decades.
Their first song took a good three minutes to crescendo, but by the time it did, the entirety of the crowd had their hands high in the air while an infectious beat shook the whole room. Underneath high-end keys, the bass rattled the building, causing everyone's bodies to tremble, as light-hearted rap nicely filled in the middle.
By this point, the crowd had begun going wild.
"We almost didn't make it here tonight, Houston," rapper Slug (aka Sean Daley) said. "I was going to call in sick, but I couldn't find your phone number."
Slug told the crowd of the rap duo's show last night in the French Quarter of New Orleans, unintentionally telling his after party that they would have to step their game up to keep pace with our wild neighbors to the East.
With rhymes as simple and catching as "Every girl looks best when she's undressed," it's hard not to smile when you listen to these guys. Even the ladies were cheering for more, as he teased them, bantered back and forth with them and called them bitches (which we assume is tongue in cheek?).
Both in his style and in his delivery, Slug sounded a lot like Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, who is arguably the godfather of indie/hip hop. Also similar to McCoy, much of his catalog talks of women who have done him wrong, but he has something of a "look at me now" kind of attitude about it all.
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Before Atmosphere, Evidence got the sparse crowd tightly packed in front of the stage. He sounded like a lazy Eminem, or an energetic Kid Cudi. Similar to Em, his rhyme schemes were well thought-out and carefully crafted - he bent words like a contortionist would bend his body - and on the Cudi side, well... he rapped a lot about marijuana. A lot.
We're also guessing that it helped that Bun B popped up onstage to hype the crowd during "I Don't Need Love."
Besides performing a song about chasing dark clouds away, which is the last thing we Houstonians should be thinking about given our current waterless predicament, Evidence's show was a hit and seemed to strike a chord with everyone in attendance.
Also a rarity in rap shows is the headliner coming onstage on time. Both Atmosphere and Evidence were quite punctual. And for that, we thank both of them.
Personal Bias: Given the current state of the music industry, we thoroughly enjoy going to shows that are a hybrid of multiple genres. It will be interesting to watch and see which ones are fads and which ones stick around as the music business realigns itself.
The Crowd: Very, very high. Or perhaps sleepy.
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Overheard In the Crowd: "Washington D.C. is the capitol of the state of Washington, right?"
Random Notebook Dump: Bun B is like the Neil Patrick Harris of rap. If it's the last place you think he'd be, he's probably there.