Atmosphere Kick It In Mesa
Atmosphere's Slug, whose real name is Sean Daley. Image by Ben Garcia.
California Reggae And Minnesota Hip-Hop Join Forces For A Spectacular Show In The Phoenix Metro
Slightly Stoopid co-founder, Kyle McDonald. Images by Ben Garcia.
By Ben Garcia
Modern Times Magazine
July 14, 2013 — The Kickin Up Dust tour featuring Tribal Seeds, Atmosphere and Slightly Stoopid rolled into town and made its second stop of the tour at Mesa Amphitheater on a hot and muggy evening July 11.
Despite the hot summer temperatures and the unusual pairing of Tribal Seeds’ and Slightly Stoopid’s reggae style and Atmosphere’s backpack rap lyrics, fans showed up in droves to enjoy a night of live music.
Tribal Seeds opened the show for fans, many of whom were still trying to make their way in as lines to purchase tickets were still long and slow well after the music had started.
The mellow moods Tribal Seeds provided served as the perfect way to open what ended up being an intense rest of the night.
As the sun was at its “golden hour” during sunset, Atmosphere took the stage. DJ/producer, Ant arrived on scene first as he took the command post of his turntables and frontman Slug soon followed with a mic in his right hand and an aluminium mug of hot tea in his left.
To an outsider, a rapper drinking hot tea instead of any variation of alcoholic drink might seem a bit weird but Slug, whose real name is Sean Daley, has based his whole rap career around making music for the common person which is how he sees himself.
Slug, the Minnesota native, isn’t one who is concerned with keeping up with the stereotypical image of a rapper.
At one point during the set, Slug stopped the show and begged fans to slap him if he ever used the trendy hip-hop phrase “turnt up” again. A fan shouted from the crown “it’s okay Slug” and he quickly snapped back saying “NO. It’s not ok to talk like that.”
Two words that Slug did say a lot and have on his mind that evening were “Lucy” and “Ford” as in Atmosphere’s 2001 LP Lucy Ford: Atmosphere EPs.
For long time Atmosphere fans, the show that evening was a trip down memory lane as Slug played some of the same songs he played when Atmosphere first came to Arizona circa 2002.
Atmosphere played a few newer songs including their latest release, Bob Seger, but for the most part the setlist came from the aforementioned album and God Loves Ugly, released in 2002.
For a group that has been in the game for well over a decade like Atmosphere has, it is refreshing to see they haven’t forgotten their roots.
An argument could go on forever about who the “most successful” indie rapper or rap group is of all time is but one would be foolish not to at least mention Atmosphere.
Regardless of success or not, Slug’s pure lyrical talent and his ability to make songs the common person can relate to on many different levels makes him one of the greatest MCs from the midwest and quite possibly one of the most underrated rappers of all time.
And although loyal fans could see that their beloved Slug had aged and put on a few extra pounds, it was hardly noticeable because of the high energy levels Slug had on stage.
It was a performance that was a hard follow.
Unfortunately for Slightly Stoopid, they had to follow Slug.
By the time Slightly Stoopid hit the stage, darkness had fully engulfed Mesa Amphitheater and temperatures had quickly creeped down to the high 90’s — somewhat nice and bearable for a Phoenix summer night.
Slightly Stoopid, the San Diego natives, opened their set up with a several minute jam session that started out mellow before turning subdued, then quickly evolving into a more uptempo reggae show.
One can never be too sure of what a Slightly Stoopid setlist will contain as it can be a variation of really calm reggae songs to energetic rock/dub songs or it can be mayhem when they play some of their older punk-rock tunes. The only thing ever certain to happen at a Slightly Stoopid concert is that there is a strong possibility of getting a contact high.
It has been 17 years since Slightly Stoopid release their first album. Upon examination of that self titled album and their latest release — Top Of The World, in 2012 — it’s obvious to see that the band’s sound and style has changed drastically but the one thing that hasn’t is that they still know how to give their fans a good show no matter what their sound is.
And, as with many a show at Mesa Amphitheater, because of the surrounding neighborhoods and hotel that want to get to sleep, the night ended early and a few thousand fans left thoroughly satisfied.
Ben Garcia is a freelance writer and photographer living in Mesa, Ariz. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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