Three days into Summerfest, an unfortunate theme has quietly bubbled up to the surface at a number of significant shows: sleepy spectators. The crowd at Arctic Monkeys’ opening night performance could barely be bothered to cheer for an encore, and judging from some of the reviews, even Lady Gaga had to continually implore the Amphitheater crowd to get up and get moving.
Unfortunately, that theme carried into day three, as old school hip-hop artist Atmosphere powered through – and eventually mostly won over – some feeble fandom Friday night at the Miller Lite Oasis.
The show marked the third straight Summerfest appearance for the Minnesota-based duo of Ant (DJ Anthony Davis) and Slug (rapper Sean Daley), who came out and opened the set with "January On Lake Street" off the group’s latest album.
At first glance, Daley looks more like a 40-year-old dad – which he is – than the frontman of a hip-hop group. However, he has a sneakily good flow and beat, and he’s an energetic performer, spitting out his personal lyrics and stories with heartfelt enthusiasm.
Going into the second number "Puppets," Daley called the crowd a "pity party," and judging by the lukewarm response near the beginning of the show, it wasn’t an inaccurate statement. It wasn’t for lack of effort on Daley’s part, who threw in all sorts of requests to get the crowd hands up and moving (like asking for people to put their "scissors up" on the third song, "The Loser Wins") and a Milwaukee shout-out for seemingly every song.
Not that there weren’t a few technical issues for Atmosphere during the show as well. "Scapegoat" seemingly started off with no lights at the beginning – an odd moment – and periodically throughout the show, Daley’s vocals seemed a little quiet, briefly fading out and almost disappearing into a difficult whisper on numbers like "God Loves Ugly," "Sunshine" and the poetry slam-like "The Woman With the Tattoed Hands."
Still, the core of the music – flowing old school lyrical hip-hop and personal storytelling lyrics delivered with vigor – stayed strong and slowly willed the crowd into action, (Daley’s best plan was, in his words after a temperate response to "Kanye West," to "play something that we f*cking recognize").
By the time Atmosphere reached "Dirty Girl" near the middle of the set, the audience was growing louder and more active overall. As he got through "Between the Lines" and "Idiot," more hands were going up and staying up.
Atmosphere completed its set with a nice collection of honest, personal selections, including "Happy Mess," a selection Daley said he wrote for his wife; "Little Man," a rapped ode directed toward his son, his father and himself; "Yesterday" and "Flicker." The gang left the stage, and it was time for an encore … except the crowd wasn’t making any noise or earning it. Off stage, Daley spoke into his microphone, saying they weren’t going to leave without coming out for an encore.
After about a minute of tepid anticipation, Daley and company let the audience off the hook, coming back out for "Trying to Find a Balance." The song got the biggest response of the night. After 80 minutes, the large audience at the Miller Lite Oasis finally got loud – albeit for an encore much of the crowd hadn’t particularly bothered to earn.
The fog from the first two days of Summerfest may have lifted, but the audience Friday night still seemed to be in a haze – due in no part to the performers on stage.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published Sept. 19, 2014
It's been a turbulent few years for Aaron Freeman, more commonly known as Gene Ween from the band Ween. After much self-repair, however, the musician is himself again - literally - recording and performing as the lead in his new band, fittingly titled Freeman. The band has a new album, along with a tour stopping at Turner Hall Ballroom. Before then, OnMilwaukee.com chatted with Freeman about the road to recovery, music and himself.
Published Sept. 18, 2014
Character actor David Eigenberg is likely best known for spending multiple seasons and two movies romancing Cynthia Nixon's Miranda Hobbes on the iconic HBO TV show "Sex and the City." Eigenberg's latest television project nowadays, however, is far from high fashion and high living in New York City. Instead of a fiery redhead, Eigenberg now co-stars with actual flames on NBC's "Chicago Fire."
Published Sept. 17, 2014
In 2010, Mark Clements arrived in Milwaukee and, in his first act as artistic director, brought something to the Milwaukee Rep's main stage that oddly it had never seen in its impressive history: a musical. Several years later, Clements has made it a bit of a tradition to feature a musical in the Rep's main house schedule. 2014 is no different and the Powerhouse opens up with "The Color Purple."
Published Sept. 15, 2014
The title of The War on Drugs' latest album is "Lost in the Dream," fitting for a record - and a moment in time - that utterly enveloped front man Adam Granduciel. The band is now taking the final product on the road, including a stop at The Pabst Theater on Sunday, Sept. 21. Before then, Granduciel chatted with OnMilwaukee.com about becoming a real band on the road, the process behind the album and the inner battles that went into it.
Published Sept. 14, 2014
It's hard to imagine there was much clamoring for a sequel to "Dolphin Tale." The first film was a modest early fall success back in 2011, but even then, the story of Winter the dolphin was already fairly thin dramatic material, serving as little more than a nice pleasant aside. Still, somebody thought it was a good idea to head back to the well, and surprisingly - judging from "Dolphin Tale 2" - that person wasn't wrong.
Published Sept. 12, 2014
The Brewers are desperately trying to pull themselves out of a devastating tailspin. Even when they win, they seem to lose - as evidenced by last night's Giancarlo Stanton debacle. Sounds like a good time to get baseball's favorite canine Hank the Dog back in the spotlight!
Published Sept. 10, 2014
The country-tinged rock duo of Phil Leavitt and Joie Calio worked together for years in the band Dada. 7Horse, however, marks a fairly new project for the guys. And there are certainly worse things to put on an early band's resume than being associated with an Oscar-nominated Scorsese film. OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with Leavitt about the band's origins, its Milwaukee connection and getting the rare Scorsese Stamp of Approval.
Published Sept. 9, 2014
For fans of the late '90s, names like the Sugar Ray, "TRL," Surge and Chris Gaines will sound very familiar (OK, maybe not that last one). For local music fans around in the era, another name might sound a little familiar: The Buzzhorn.
Published Sept. 8, 2014
The good news? As with every year, the lineup of movies are the Milwaukee Film Festival is overflowing with terrific options. The bad news? Unfortunately, save for some kind of planetary revolution halt, divine intervention or new time machine development, there are only so many hours in the day. So here are some picks for the film festival selections you should definitely make the time to see.
Published Sept. 5, 2014
After slowly teasing its complete lineup for the past several weeks, the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival finally revealed the entire cinematic buffet it's assembled for film fans - both hardcore and casual - this morning. And my friends, it looks absolutely delicious.