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 April 20, 2015
The Maine is currently on the road right now, touring in support of its latest album "American Candy," released just last month on March 31. Its current tour lands at The Rave on Wednesday, April 22. Before then, OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with guitarist Jared Monaco about the new album, as well as his appreciation for The Rave and ... NSYNC.
Published April 18, 2015
Before the fairy tale riff "Peter and the Starcatcher" starts its run at the Milwaukee Rep on Tuesday, April 21, OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with director Blake Robison about this particular Peter Pan retelling, making actors fly and why revisionist fairy tales are currently all the rage.
Published April 17, 2015
The Wisconsin State Fair's Main Stage lineup this summer features some of the biggest names the celebration has wrangled up in recent note. And the biggest of the bunch - or at least certainly the most unusual - is tightrope artist extraordinaire Nik Wallenda. OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to talk one-on-one with the stuntman about preparing for another life-threatening performance and being in a highwire family dynasty that shows no sign of stopping.
Published April 17, 2015
The Riverside's distant past will become the present as the legendary theater will play host to two screenings of the beloved 1942 classic "Casablanca" Friday and Saturday night. And to complete the blast to the past vibe of the event, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will perform Max Steiner's famous score alongside the movie.
Published April 15, 2015
Eugene Ionesco's 1950 play "The Bald Soprano" - the first the famed playwright ever wrote - is an absurdist classic. It's one of the most performed shows in France with a permanent repertory spot at Theatre de la Huchette since 1957 and a large number of interpretations. It's safe to say, however, that few to none of those interpretations featuring digital actors getting beamed in like "Star Trek" characters.
Published April 14, 2015
The Blue Man Group is famous for several things: funky instruments, those old Intel ads, Tobias Funke proclaiming that "I blue myself!" on "Arrested Development" and, of course, the whole being covered in blue paint thing. But one of the crucial elements of the Blue Man Group is that they don't talk. So imagine my surprise in getting to interview a Blue Man (at least the transcription would be easy).
Published April 14, 2015
Tomorrow night, after weeks of anticipation and online voting, the Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDIs) will name the winners at a ceremony at the Potawatomi Event Center. However, there's still 24 hours left to learn about these community-impacting individuals and organizations and vote for the Wells Fargo People's Choice Award before the polls close and the numbers are tallied up.
Published April 13, 2015
For 100 minutes, writer-director David Robert Mitchell's breakout indie horror flick "It Follows" manages to maintain a continuous feeling of impending, skin-shivering dread. The smart, suspenseful result is the best kind of nightmare, one from which you want to wake up but are too eerily entranced to actually do anything about it.
Published April 11, 2015
Completing the franchise's evolution from street racing box office surprise to global dominating live-action cartoon, "Furious 7" is basically Hollywood's version of a turducken. It's a greasy, gaudy monstrosity, a monument to excess and absurdity - all pretty much cooked to lip-smacking satisfaction.
Published April 10, 2015
Getting locked in a room and having to solve puzzles and find clues in order to escape while an ominous clock ticks down is not usually a sign things are going well. Under most circumstances, it probably means you're living in a "Saw" film, and it's been nice knowing you. But that's exactly the experience I, along with four of my friends, signed up for recently at Escape MKE.