Atmosphere Brings Passion and Jokes To Movin’ On Stage
Despite the menacing expression outlined on the American flag backdrop, despite the all-black attire the entire band dawned, despite fists, handguns, and middle fingers in the air, Slug’s demeanor was cheerful.
An ever-present smile could not escape his face as he performed. It didn’t matter to him that the audience wasn’t comprised of diehard fans of his group, Atmosphere. He said it himself, “I realize only four of you know who the fuck we are…I’m ok with that.”
The bass boomed through the slowly growing crowd as Atmosphere opened with “Puppets.” The crowd appreciated Slug’s first Penn State reference, a call-out to all the “Penn State pussies.” Atmosphere proved from the start they sound just as good if not better live, with quirky improvisations that didn’t seem over-rehearsed.
“The Loser Wins” was up next, and Slug urged the crowd to make some noise for our new shitty friends while he pointed at the band with a goofy grin. He was self-aware enough to know that majority of the crowd was just a party, but he was eager to give it to them without any traces of a bruised ego.
Slug vaguely dedicated his third song, “Scapegoat,” to all the old friends. The audience vibed with this intention, and a few “fuck you’s” resounded in the air, aimed at no one in particular.
Pure intentions shone through the rugged demeanor once again as Slug chanted “hell yeah, I’m happy to be alive” with intense sincerity. Everyone knew what was coming as the beat to “Godlovesugly” began. Unsurprisingly, the hit was one of the crowd’s favorites. A few dedicated fans screamed along to every word, while the rest silently bumped to the beat.
Catering to the audience, Slug started to sense that the partiers wanted a different vibe. “Maybe we should be doing more drinking songs,” he laughed as he sipped out of a red cup. He performed “Cashier in a Convenience Store” and the crowd revived.
It wasn’t hard to see that college students weren’t going to pass up a free concert even if they weren’t huge fans of the performer, and Atmosphere managed to cater to both their dedicated fans and the rest of the crowd. Slug said he felt the energy of the crowd, and noticed that many didn’t know who Atmosphere is. He proposed a “Q and A” session as a clever ruse to get everyone’s hands up as he began “Kanye West.” This song hits the crux of Atmosphere’s philosophy and the crowd seemed to understand. With lyrics like “put your hands in the air like you really do care,” the aggressive persona Atmosphere can encapsulate is derived from a positive place.
Atmosphere then maintained the “happy to be alive” theme with their biggest hit, “Sunshine.” The crowd sounded bigger than it was — maybe the only reason most of them were at the show — and Slug was perfectly content with that.
“Modern Man’s Hustle” was next, and though a majority of the crowd had obviously never heard it, they were intrigued. Slug was telling a story and everyone wanted to hear it, whether it was the first or the five hundredth time.
He mocked some stereotypical college kids in the crowd by sipping out of his plastic cup again and declaring, “Yeah woo, I’m 21 too!” The crowd laughed then shut up as he commanded attention with an a cappella version of “The Woman with the Tattooed Hands.”
The next three songs separated the dedicated fans and the selfie-stick bearing crowd. The voices that sang along with “Guns and Cigarettes,” “Between the Lines,” and “Shoulda Known” were sparse, but intense.
“The Waitress” woke everyone up. It was impossible not to be captivated by Slug’s story of a homeless man, his relationships, and a quintessential Atmosphere twist ending.
The twist ending songs continued with “Yesterday,” as the crowd embodied a unique solemn hypeness that only this song could create.
Slug addressed his “bossiness,” explaining that when he can see a group of people whose bodies and movements are in unison with his music “it’s the closest to church” he is going to get.
The solemn-hype remained with “Hell,” as the song hit home with the crowd, some were cheering while others watched stoic. Slug then assured the crowd that the group “only has a little bit left” as he played a song older than some of the crowd members, “God’s Bathroom Floor.”
Atmosphere closed with “Trying to Find a Balance,” making effortless Penn State references that could’ve been the original lyrics. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure fans rejoiced as Slug closed, urging the crowd to “be excellent to each other.”
With all puns intended, people were captivated with Atmosphere’s atmosphere. The aggression with which they pursue happiness was infectious, and the Blue Band field was all smiles.