Consecutive sets from Train and Atmosphere provide a sharp dichotomy at Mile High Music Fest

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Brian Landis Folkins
Train brought back the alterna-ballad '90s (acknowledging that most of the band's output has taken place within the last ten years, I still think the band sounds more like the Goo Goo Dolls or Counting Crows than anything much that's happening now) with a set that left heartfelt emotion to spare, with frontman Patrick Monahan frequently encouraging the crowd to love each other and so forth.

Though the band played plenty of new material from its latest, Save Me, San Fransisco, which the crowd ate up, it was self-aware enough to play the big hits from its first couple of albums, too -- "Meet Virginia" came early in the set, and the band saved its biggest one, "Drops of Jupiter," for last.

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Brian Landis Folkins
Though Monahan was fairly charismatic (in a cheesy, Bon Jovi kind of way), the music his band plays is so consistently uninteresting it was a relief when the group wrapped it up.

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Brian Landis Folkins
If Train's set was devoted almost exclusively to love songs, Atmosphere broadened the emotional range considerably. Always at his strongest with the kind of melancholy nostalgia that characterizes songs like "Sunshine," Slug can do convincingly cheerful songs that don't come off sappy as few rappers can.

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Brian Landis Folkins
Not that he can't do angry, too -- crowd favorite "God Loves Ugly" came midway through the set and showcased Slug's lilting, clever delivery as well as any of his songs do.

Throughout the set, he kept up an easy, funny banter with the crowd and made numerous allusions to the legal status of weed in Colorado between songs, also making room for his guitarist and pianist to solo pretty frequently. In sharp contrast to the forced bombast of Train, Atmosphere kept things fairly low-key and got just as much, if not more, response from the crowd. And if you can accuse the band of hitting fairly consistent notes throughout its going-on-long career, compared to Train, the band's range came off miles wide.

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