The Family Vacation Tour
With Blueprint and Evidence
Fillmore, Miami Beach
Friday, September 17, 2011
Last night, quintessential emo-rapper MC Slug and his longtime producer Ant brought the latest incarnation of their Atmosphere project to the stage at the Fillmore Miami Beach. Despite their sensitive leanings, the group managed to outdo the Wu-Tang performance just a few days earlier. It hurts to write that, but it's true.
We arrived at the Fillmore to find Blueprint's set already underway. Backed up by a lone DJ, the MC slugged through a competent set that was a fitting, Talib Kweli-esque start to the night.
Next up, Evidence took the stage. The MC is one-third of Dilated Peoples and the brief snippet we caught of his performance was very much in line with the pseudo-politico-boho backpack rap of that ensemble. Unfortunately, almost as soon as we took our place in front of the stage, the curtain began to lower on the group prematurely, much to the comical chagrin of the band and the audience. Not sure what happened here, besides an obvious technical snafu, but Evidence finished his set from behind the venue's curtain.
Atmosphere took the stage to a Beatles-on-Ed-Sullivan ovation. It's been a long time since Crossfade has seen an audience so ravenous for a performer. No matter how white-people-can't-dance the situation was, we were charmed by the mob's fanaticism. People rapped along expressively and dramatically, pointing toward the sky. Anytime Atmosphere MC Slug told his fans to get their hands in the air, the very all-ages crowd responded like cadets in training.
Much of the set consisted of what Slug described as "shoving new material down your throats," i.e. moody, mid-tempo tracks from the group's extra-sensitive The Family Sign LP. But Atmosphere evidently knows its audience and delivered an equally hearty greatest hits sampling that kept everyone's full attention.
Unlike the Rakewon/Ghostface/Cappadonna performance earlier in the week, Atmosphere kept the audio levels set just right for maximum sonic detail and composition. While Wu-Tang sounded like it was being blasted through a skyscraper that'd been turned into a speaker box (which is, like, cool for the "HOLY SHIT!" factor, but not that great when you want to hear a lil' music), MC Slug and Ant managed to deliver a carefully nuanced set. So if there was a hot piano lick or the beat did something tricky or the samples gradually crept up in the mix, you could actually appreciate it.
No doubt, we infinitely prefer the Wu's recorded output. But Atmosphere was a significantly better live music experience.
Random Detail: Slug expressed his love for Miami Beach, particularly in light of Atmosphere's last performance in town, which he described as being "in the hood." A quick Google search isn't turning anything up... Did you see Atmosphere in the hood? Where did they play?
Personal Bias: I will admit to being previously skeptical of emo-rap's crunkability. But now I believe.
The Crowd: Teens, mild-mannered weekend warriors, hip-hop-lite bros, a dude wearing a "FUCK SWAG" t-shirt.
Overheard in the Crowd: As the Fillmore's curtain came down on him, Evidence's MC said "That's fucked up."
-"Until The Nipple's Gone"
-"Guns And Cigarettes"
-"Between Fire And Fear"
-"Just For Show"
-"Always Coming Back Home To You"
-"If You Can Save Me Now"
-"Last To Say"
-"Say Hey There"
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