Review: Atmosphere and Common at Icelantic's Winter on the Rocks, 1/27/12

Categories: Concert Reviews

Aaron Thackeray
Atmosphere last night at Red Rocks. More Atmosphere at Red Rocks photos.


Under a star-speckled sky and with freezing temperatures, Atmosphere delivered a greatest hits compilation at Red Rocks Amphitheatre for the inaugural Icelantic's Winter on the Rocks. Nostalgia aside, when he greeted everyone at the venue and opened into "God Loves Ugly," 10,000 winter-ready people joined in the lyrics and seemed to appreciate the beautiful chance of a lifetime to see raw, independent hip-hop displayed for the first time, during winter, at one of the most famous venues in the world.

Gabe Rovick and Britt Chester
Slug of Atmosphere last night in the tunnel at Red Rocks. (Click for a larger version.)

"What up, homie" isn't how most artists grace the stage at Red Rocks. But to all of us anticipating the final headlining act, Atmosphere, it was more than appropriate. Atmosphere can literally claim that each person last night was his friend. For the most part, we all grew up with the Minneapolis-based group. We were there for his struggles on "Lucy Ford," we felt the plight during "God Loves Ugly," and we all drooled over the various "Sad Clown Bad Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter/Dub" mixes that have dropped since the year 2000.

Last night, however, a culmination of decades of hard work paid off in a monumental way for both hip-hop and the Rhymesayers legacy. Pushing independent "backpack rapper" hip-hop to the national level, Sean Daley and Anthony Davis, better known to the rap masses as Slug and Ant, have been able to connect with a generation like no other indie rapper. Weaving genuine emotion -- relative to all the struggling, identity-seeking youth in need of an idol -- Atmosphere taught us how he dealt with problems rooted in women, life, kids, fame and failure.

Last night, that bond was cemented. Jumping from the 2002 single "GodLovesUgly," in which the autobiographical lyrics show more of a defense mechanism than a braggadocio, directly into "She's Enough," whose words shower a faceless love with promises of commitment, Slug connected with each and every person who has ever felt the skirmish of soul searching and finding happiness. Classic songs from the early 2000s inspired venue-erupting sing-a-longs that rained down cheers from the top of the amphitheater. When Slug said "put your hands up," we put 'em up. When Slug said "throw both your hands up," we threw 'em both up. When Slug said "give a cheer for the homie standing next to you," we followed suit.

Directly after "The Woman With The Tattooed Hands" was delivered, Slug remarked on the singularity of the Colorado music scene. He stated that not only does the rest of the country copy what we do, but what we do is the right thing. He then made some jokes about how we say ridiculous things like "stoked," and instead of things being "fresh," we call them "sick." Last night, the show was so fresh and frigid, it's safe to say that since we all enjoyed ourselves so much, sweating and panting and screaming, we all left sick.

We were treated to "Little Man" from "You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having," and given some very special insight into the life of the lyricist. At the end of the track, Slug paid tribute to his father, Craig Daley, who would've celebrated his 59th birthday. A brief undeclared moment of silence was broken with the opening pianos of "Yesterday," and we all got right back into the moment.

Location Info


Red Rocks Amphitheatre

18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO

Category: General

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Oh wow does Britt Chester really refer to Slug as Atmosphere? LOL, takes me back to 2002 right there!!!

Seriously though... get a grip. 


Nice review but it would be nice if Westword tried to get basic facts right (Red Rocks doesn't hold 10,000 people, his name is not "Atmosphere,"etc). The writer should know something about the music, the artist and the venue and not make stuff up.

Joe Ridah
Joe Ridah

Refreshing to see a complete review of a hiphop show in the Westword. Nice job. The previous  hiphop stories seemed to regularly blackout key acts of shows. Although I don't think Common is a "R&B vocalist".  This is an emcee that went to battle with Ice Cube at the pinnacle of Gangsta Rap.


Athmosphere was real and passionate, Common came in hard, did a dope freestyle but ignored any track from his 2nd and 3rd albums to include "I Used To Love Her" (widely considered the greatest hip hip song ever written). He catered to the fake crowd of 21 year olds, sobsrunk they could hardly stand, who were mostly there for the trade show "specticle" and were not intimately familiar with his work outside of his recent sucess. I jumped up and down I sang along but I had to lower my expectations for a legend who has changed his swag after a little fame. The DJ working the computer playing all that "laffy taffy" crap between sets and who has prob never seen 1's & 2's needs to be blacklisted. The snow and Cold created a great setting, were symbolic of what makes Colorado special but also served as a metaphor for Common's bittersweet performance, where hip hop was, and where it could be going


Very nice review. I had doubts about going mainly due to the weather and my distaste for the cold. This article has write-up has made me think twice about the decision now. I knew Atmosphere would totally bring it but I'm also glad to hear Common didn't phone it in and brought the heat also. 


And P.S., look up the definition of the word "literally."


I was highly disappointed when Common ended the show and had not played I used to love her. other than that he was great!!!

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