Atmosphere's tour began with a broken down van just outside of Saskatoon, but smoothed out quickly with a string of sold-out shows leading into Friday night's gig at Observatory North Park, which sold out weeks in advance. Backed by Ant and Plain Ole Bill on the boards, Slug commanded a stage decorated to look like a fish tank with miniature castles, plants, and bubbles. Atmosphere's new album, Fishing Blues, dominated the early portion of the set before they dove into the classics, playing everything from "God's Bathroom Floor" to "Godlovesugly." A youngish audience bobbed their heads and waved their hands to Slug's every command, at one point rapping along so incessantly that he had to momentarily stop and quip, "Hey, I know my own shit."
"Trying to Find a Balance"
...by Atmosphere (official video)
The show left room for party, politics, and introspection. Highlights included the anthemic "Lovelife" and "The Woman with the Tattooed Hands," which concluded with a powerful acapella refrain karaoked by several hundred fans. Brother Ali reemerged following his stellar opening set to tag team with Slug on "Cats Vans Bags" and "Blah Blah Blah." Shortly after, red and blue lights canvassed the stage as Slug dropped to his knees with his hands behind his head before rapping about police brutality from the perspective of an officer on "Pure Evil," arguably the best track on Fishing Blues.
"When I was 16-years-old, there was no such thing as a 44-year-old rapper," Slug relayed late into the evening. He refers to his recent output as #DadRap, the thoughts and stories of a happily married man with children figuring out what's next, and a far cry from the bleeding-heart manifestos that featured prominently in his writing for the better part of two decades. He's looser on stage than he's ever been, switching up lyrics and comedically improvising all without sacrificing any of his technical proficiency or impact.
2891 University Avenue, North Park
Just before the encore, a young woman hopped onstage heading toward Slug and immediately ate it, but bounced back up and continued her journey only to be tackled by security at the last moment. "I told you to stop doing that shit, mom! It's embarrassing," Slug responded. As the beat to "Sunshine" dropped, another security guard swooped in to snatch the joint out of a Mac DeMarco doppelganger's mouth and stomp it out before stealthily slipping back into the crowd. He looked around confused and calmly lit another while the encore proceeded to a Slug, Ali, and deM atlaS freestyle cypher before concluding with "Trying to Find a Balance."
- Concert: Atmosphere, Brother Ali, deM atlaS, Plain Ole Bill
- Date: September 23
- Venue: Observatory North Park
- Seats: GA