Review – Atmosphere Lifted Their Audience at Red Rocks

Quite the lineup showed out Sunday night at Red Rocks with The Far Side (formerly of Pharcyde), Lupe Fiasco and headliner Atmosphere creating a show dedicated to hip-hop and mellow bars. Aside from the three national acts, the night also welcomed DJ Abilities, SA-ROC and Sol Messiah. It was an earlier start to the night than most concerts with the number of performances, but the crowd stayed patient and enjoyed each act as they came.

SA-ROC, touring artist,

SA-ROC opens alongside Sol Messiah.

As far as hip-hop goes, what would it be without the West Coast influence of early hip-hop pioneers like The Pharcyde? They weren’t headlining, but their mere presence was a gift to any through-and-through hip-hop fans that night. Their set was almost too short for their legacy, but they humbly left their mark, thanking their supporters throughout the years during their performance of hits “Runnin’” and “Passin’ Me By.” If there were any group to lay a foundation for the show, it’s the same one that laid a base for an entire genre. 

The Far Side, touring artists, 303 music

The Far Side

Following The Far Side, Lupe Fiasco arrived on stage to his hit song “Kick, Push” — the skater anthem emblematic to anyone who’s grabbed a board with no real idea as to where they’re heading. The audience floated on the same social high, stretching their arms to “coast” through the lyrics. The singer came out full force but later reeled it back into a more conservative physical performance. “Damn, I almost forgot how high we are,” the artist stated, “I need hip-hop to give me energy right now,” he joked after “Hip-Hop Saved My Life.” Regardless of his exhaustion, the singer continued with zero complaints afterward. 

Lupe Fiasco, touring artist, 303 music

Lupe Fiasco performs at Red Rocks.

Contrary to his stage name, Fiasco brought silky smooth lyrics and a sense of control to a venue tossing cardboard boxes and cups from the top of the stairs due to the gusty winds passing through. The natural chaos never affected the amphitheatre’s attitude. The fans stayed in good spirits and the performers maintained their composure in the slightly chaotic environment. Fiasco appropriately ended his set with “The Show Goes On” to the delight of the entire audience. 

Red Rocks, audience, 303 music, fans

Red Rocks Amphitheatre crowd at Atmosphere, Lupe Fiasco and The Far Side concert.

When Atmosphere arrived, the fans screamed with little control over their own lungs. Admirers of hip-hop went for the whole concert, but the die-hards were there for Atmosphere. As a ‘90s-established group, Atmosphere has touched the hearts and collaborated with an influx of different artists throughout their musical career, so it’s no wonder their following brings out a diverse group of fans. The performance was high energy but low output — it was felt and heard, but never boisterous. “God Loves Ugly’ and “The Girl with The Tattooed Hands” received the most notable applauses during his set while the audience remained respectable in their admiration for the rest of the performance. 

Lupe Fiasco mentioned that an Atmosphere show was a sophisticated experience. Later in the show, lead vocalist Slug could only give a small laugh at the idea of sophistication but the audience was proof. It was intentional listening and appreciation of the act noticeable enough to other artists. It was dad-rap to the highest degree — a modern-day musician to listen to as you sit in your favorite chair by the fire with your finest smoking pipe dissecting the most fly lyrical poetry.  

All photography by David Cohn. View the full gallery here.