Atmosphere brings Tour de Friends, Pt. Deux to party in St. Louis

For the first stop of the Tour de Friends, Pt. Deux on April 10th, cherished hip hop duo Atmosphere decided to start things off relatively close to home, partying in the Midwest with the city of St. Louis at The Pageant and making their long-awaited return to the 314. They didn’t come alone either, instead rolling into town with LA-based rap collective NOFUN!, whose hyper and chaotic stage performance not only broke the ice for the evening, but totally and effectively melted it. Not to be missed either was DJ/producer HEBL, who has been stepping out from behind the Atmosphere turntables and spinning a few records of his own on tours lately.

It was an unforgettable opening evening to what is sure to be an unforgettable tour.

NOFUN! is a massive group of energetic rappers who seem to embrace the amount of space they take up onstage. With at least eight members rotating in and out of each song, this group was wild, lively, entertaining, and really got the party started. It was refreshing to see such a diverse group of individuals all embracing the same music, while being able to add their own individual influences to the mix. NOFUN! clearly enjoys irony, as well, considering they are anything but what their name suggests.

As mentioned above, second on the bill was HEBL, who — on top of Atmosphere — diligently works behind the scenes on music and experiences of his own. His set was a deep exploration of what electronic music can sound like; it felt like a mix of what the future could hold for it, while excellently representing the past and genre’s roots. HEBL’s vibes had a nice calming effect for the crowd: a moment for everyone to catch their breath, especially considering how obvious it was that everyone was going to be singing along to every word about to be played.

For more than 20 years, Atmosphere has built a culture out of embracing honest, self-effacing, and vulnerable lyrics, pushing stories of truth to the limelight. Slug has proven — time and time again — his mastery of weaving together fascinating narratives, while paying homage to influences that helped him along the way. He also took a specific moment out of the night to recognize DJ Mister Cee, a powerful influence for Slug, who had just passed away.

This was my fourth time seeing Atmosphere and, honestly, it never gets old.

Slug’s energy, mixed with experience, cultivates such a fun and enjoyable show. Add in Ant’s skillfully crafted pulse and trademarked sound and you end up with a hip hop lover’s dream. The setlist covered everything, from brand new singles of the group’s latest EP Talk Talk to what Slug referred to as “tattoo songs” (aka, older songs that are still so loved and well-received). You know the kind — the ones that have made such impacts in a person’s life that they get it “tattooed” in some way. Songs like “God Loves Ugly”, “Sunshine”, “Yesterday”, and “God’s Bathroom Floor” will forever find their way onto an Atmosphere setlist, according to Slug himself.

Atmosphere has regularly challenged themselves to evolve, changing up styles and embracing new sounds, without straying too far from who they are. It has allowed them to grow and gain knowledge, as well as an immensely diversifying their fan base. It is the reason why people flood venues to see them when they come to town. There is just something about an Atmosphere show that leaves you a little more hopeful about the world… and that is something we all could use. Anything to help us deal with life, love, stress, and setbacks.

The Tour de Friends, Pt. Deux has just begun and is running around the country through May 5th, so be sure to get your tickets now! The Talk Talk EP is also available everywhere if you haven’t given it a spin!

Photography by Thomas Semonco

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