Before heading into an ATOMGA show, you know two things. One, the room will be full, and two, the sounds will be loud. Denver’s premier Afrobeat band has been crowned royalty since 2011 and is known for being a sure thing when it comes to providing an epic night with genuinely talented musicians. In addition to the tunes, their dedication to bringing out the lover in all of us is what ties the entity of ATOMGA into the total package. The group just released their third album, AGA, and it is their best work yet.
It came as no surprise then, that when they announced their headlining show at The Bluebird, Denver would show up in wild numbers to experience the good times. The 10-piece band packed onto the stage with their barrage of equipment, with Casey Hrdlicka on guitar, Peter Mouser on keys, Alice Hansen on trumpet, Frank Roddy on tenor saxophone, Leah Concialdi on baritone and soprano saxophones, flute and EWI, Sam Lafalce on bass, Jared “Jball” Fischer on congas and percussion, Matt Schooley on timbales and auxiliary percussion, JR Ranck on drums and one of the newest members, LaSha “Calyptic” Afarko, brings her beautiful voice. Calyptic also shared that it was her birthday, creating mass jealousy of the party she had surrounding her on her special day.
ATOMGA is the kind of band that, once they hit the stage, the pit of the venue is taken over by those who are ready to dance. Emma Mayes rocked an excellent opening set, in a tight, funky number of a dress no less. Joined by her band, consisting of a trombone, saxophone, bass, two drummers, a guitarist and two vocalists, their performance served as an appropriate first course to ATOMGA.
The group cites their influences as coming from Fela Kuti and sons Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti, which is easy to see in both the sound and energy that the group gave off on stage. The band first stormed the stage around 10:20 p.m., but they were missing an important section — their horns. When Roddy, Concialdi and Hansen did join, the crowd loudly celebrated their arrival, and the horn solos throughout the night were widely appreciated.
One of the most prolific points in the evening was when the group dove into their newest material. New tracks like “AGA” and “Rat Race” were well received by an enthusiastic crowd. All of the members not only graced the audience with their musical skills but also with their interesting dance moves. At one point, Concialdi and Roddy kneeled, facing each other as they each ripped on their saxophones. “We wrote this next song in one rehearsal,” said Calyptic before a track. “If you ask us later, we will tell you all about it.”
In the end, it was proven again that shows and bands like ATOMGA are a necessity for communities like Denver. Places that crave a dance party mixed in which a positive social message. After 7 years, the group has still got it, and the fans aren’t going anywhere.