Atmosphere, DJ Rare Groove and Abstract Rude Saturday, May 17, 2008 Ogden Theatre Better than: Sean Daley's childhood nickname, "Little Slug-O."
The Ogden Theater was buzzing with a sold out crowd on Saturday night for the highly-anticipated Atmosphere show, the first night of a two-night stand. The line waiting to get in stretched down Colfax Avenue and wrapped around the Independent Records, with amped up kids itching to show their support for the Rhymesayers' clan.
Currently on tour supporting Atmosphere’s latest effort, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, Ant, Slug and the rest of the crew arrived unexpectedly early. Lacking any signs of pretentiousness, they spent a substantial amount of time talking to fans and signing autographs.
Once the doors opened, the energy permeating the air was infectious. DJ Rare Groove and recent Rhymesayers' addition, Abstract Rude (Haiku D'Etat, A-Team), promptly took the stage and primed the audience for an evening of electrifying hip-hop.
Slug confidently sauntered into the spotlight around 11 p.m. dressed in jeans and a black T-shirt then proceeded to deliver a flawless sixty-minute set brimming with healthy doses of both old and new material. The contagious beat of "Shoulda Known" blasted through the speakers and got the party started. Backed by a keyboardist, bassist, backup singer and, of course, Ant on the turntables, Slug executed a thrilling theatrical performance that exemplified all the experience he has gathered throughout his adventurous endeavors.
With a career now spanning over fifteen years, Slug has always been convinced that the Minneapolis-based Rhymesayers label would succeed. "I was confident in the people,” he said in a pre-show chat. “I knew Brother Ali would be great. I knew Eyedea would be great. I didn't know how it was going to happen, but I was confident in the artists. I think that most of us in the Midwest became kind of like sponges that absorbed the East Coast and the West Coast styles. We absorbed everybody so we're kind of a mish mash of influences of artists like The Geto Boys, Nas, KRS-One, Ice Cube or Digital Underground."
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Perhaps that's why people find his material so relatable. There were songs that the entire audience could recite word for word as Slug's commanding stage presence kept them eerily captivated. Slug was playful with the crowd and consistently cracked jokes. For reasons known only to him, a guy handed Slug a twenty dollar bill towards the end of the show to which he replied, "I guess he's trying to pay me for music he downloaded." As the laughs died down, Slug launched into a brooding version of "Bird Sings Why the Caged I Know," which almost seemed to be a testament to his growth as an artist and an individual.
-- Kylie Eustice
Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Apparently, I have a soft spot for soul patches. Random Detail: It's surprising Ant can scratch with the number of cigarettes he smokes during a set. Perhaps he should try the nicotine patch. By the Way: There is NO standing on the stairs leading up to the balcony. The guy with the flashlight made that point clear over and over again. Thanks flashlight guy.