Atmosphere celebrate album release in LA

Atmosphere #8By Josh Herwitt //

Atmosphere //
The Roxy Theatre – West Hollywood, CA
May 8th, 2014 //

Hip-hop took over The Roxy Theatre last week with the return of Atmosphere, hot off the release of its brand-new album Southsiders less than 48 hours old.

The alternative hip-hop group’s seventh studio record, which follows 2011 success The Family Sign, debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart with 23,159 copies sold in the U.S. during its first week.

Not bad for a hip-hop act that has never won an award in its 25-year run.

Atmosphere #1

It’s hard to believe sometimes that rapper Sean Daley (aka Slug) and DJ/producer Anthony Davis (aka Ant) have been making music together for almost that long, but it may be even harder to believe that Slug has been writing music for Atmosphere since the age of 16.

In that period of time, the Minneapolis native has also founded independent record label Rhymesayers Entertainment with Davis, Musab Saad and Brent Sayers, as well as the Rhymesayers imprint Women Records with Nick Carter (aka Murs). He’s even collaborated with a host of other MCs for side projects like Furs (with Murs), The Dynospectrum, Deep Puddle Dynamics and The Orphanage.

Yet, this night belonged to Atmosphere and the arrival of Southsiders, which took Slug and Ant more than three years to make. The 16-track LP (not including four bonus songs) boasts singles “Kanye West” and “Bitter,” and they made sure to perform the former early on at the diminutive Sunset Strip club. The room, subsequently, went apeshit when they did, losing itself in Ant’s catchy beat and hanging onto every word that came out of Slug’s mouth, particularly the track’s “put your hands in the air like you really do care” hook. It was all part of a 90-minute set that included other classics like “GodLovesUgly” from 2002’s God Loves Ugly and “Trying to Find a Balance” from 2003’s Sevens Travels — not to mention “Sunshine” from Sad Clown Bad Summer 9 (2007) and “Yesterday” from When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (2008).

Atmosphere #6

From the sold-out crowd’s roar after every song ended, you would have thought we were in Minnesota. But after more than two decades on the scene, it was clear that Atmosphere’s following in LA is as strong as ever. It’s why the group already has plans to return in a few months for two back-to-back shows (Sept. 5-6) at the Hollywood Palladium. For Slug and Ant, it will be a busy summer of touring throughout North America, with festival stops at Summerfest in Milwaukee, Squamish in British Columbia and Outside Lands in San Francisco on the docket. And with so much material in their catalog, it’s not hard for them to keep audiences entertained.

What’s different about Atmosphere from other contemporary hip-hop acts, though, is its message and tone. The music that the group creates nowadays feels like — for lack of a better term —happy hip-hop, even if it requires Slug to repeatedly ask his fans to smile in between songs.

After all, Daley’s life seems to be all about the pursuit of happiness these days, and while it hasn’t always been easy for things to remain that way, he’s managed to keep his message primarily positive as he enters middle age.

Because from the number of smiles he flashed at The Roxy, you can tell that he’s pretty happy himself.




Outside Lands 2014 daily lineup highlights


Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 8th-10th, 2014 //

So, three-day tickets for Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival sold out in record time. Now’s your chance to snag single-day passes for SF’s premier music festival. Get ready: tickets go on sale Thursday, April 17th at 10 a.m.

Still choosing which day might be best for you? Here’s our take on the headliner options, along with choice picks and reasons to get there early this August in Golden Gate Park.


Friday, August 8th

HEADLINER OPTIONS: Kanye West Vs. Arctic Monkeys (or Disclosure)

Yeezus himself will handle headlining duties on day one, but the real question is whether or not Arctic Monkeys or Disclosure will helm Twin Peaks come nightfall. Both acts are worthy of a headlining slot — time will tell.


Run the Jewels: El-P + Killer Mike , “Rap’s most dangerous Duo”, are returning to SF after their game changing shows last year at the Independent. Expect top notch beats over future-forward production. In a perfect world they would open for West.

Phosphorescent: Matthew Houck’s understated, twisted take on indie rock is refreshingly breathtaking, exemplified most strikingly by the majestic “Song for Zula”:

Holy Ghost!: Ready for a disco-dance party fed by instrumentals? Yes you are. One of our favorite acts from the last year will set Golden Gate park ablaze.

DIGGING DEEP: (reasons to get there early)

• Mikal Cronin
• Greensky Bluegrass
• Typhoon
• Bear Hands

THE VERDICT: Eclectic with as many rap options as dance choices.


Saturday, August 9th

HEADLINER OPTIONS: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers vs. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

This one’s going to be a pretty simple choice for most folks — the classic rock singalongs versus the contemporary pop-rap anthems. These headliners starkly contrast from one another.


SBTRKT: Known to perform with iconic tribal masks, Aaron Jerome fuses innovative electronic production with drums, synth, keys & live singing, usually with help from touring partner Sampha. SBTRKT’s new EP Transitions delves into icy-instrumental territory.

Atmosphere: Slug and Ant are back this year, and they’ve got a new song entitled “Kanye West”, which doesn’t go after the Day 1 headliner, but it does address hip-hop crowd interactions in a playful, positive way.

Tycho: Scott Hansen is as much a visual artist as he is a musician — his projected imagery melds simple geometry and super slow-mo romanticism and works in hand with his newly cemented band’s ambient, yet driving beats. This one deserves a night time slot, say closing down the Panhandle Stage?

DIGGING DEEP: (reasons to get there early)

• Woods
• Jagwar Ma
• Valerie June
• Trails and Ways

THE VERDICT: Save for a handful of rowdy spots (Macklemore, Duck Sauce, Capital Cities), the offerings are relatively mellow.


Sunday, August 10th

HEADLINER OPTIONS: The Killers vs. Tiësto (or The Flaming Lips)

These two options to end the weekend are, once again, clear cut. But here’s hoping Ranger Dave harkens back to the early years and offers a third headliner option in The Flaming Lips. Their drone-psyche spectacle of a freak out deserves darkness and would offer an incredible third option.


Cut Copy: Every time these electronic-oriented Australians swing through the Bay Area, we’ll be there. Dan Whitford & Co. will make you dance and reach for the sky.

Lykke Li: The Swedish Songstress is returning to the touring circuit this year, and her first offerings from her forthcoming LP I Never Learn are more sedated than swirling. Li’s ownership of the stage and visceral passion request your attendance.

Flume: Skyrocketing electronic-music amalgamator Harley Streten creates big, bold beats centered by a chill tone. Since releasing his self-titled LP to worldwide acclaim in 2012, he’s brought in a host of top level rhymers to give the music new meaning and fresh life (listen below). We’re excited to see how this influences his live show.

DIGGING DEEP: (reasons to get there early)

• Gold Panda
• Courtney Barnett
• Jonathan Wilson
• Tumbleweed Wanderers

OVERALL VIBE: Sunday has a lot of high-decibel acts. A good day for dance enthusiasts.

Check out our Outside Lands 2014 playlist:

OL 2014 Daily Lineups