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 Dec. 17, 2014
When I arrived to interview Harlem Globetrotter Sweet J Ekworomadu - the 12th female player in the team's 89-year history - in advance of their traditional New Year's Eve game at the BC, I was asked if I wanted to play a game of horse with Sweet J. Considering I hadn't shot a basketball since probably middle school, I couldn't turn down the opportunity fast enough. I was, however, able to ask some one-on-one questions with Ekworomadu.
Published Dec. 16, 2014
The story behind "It's a Wonderful Life" is now almost as well-known as the story of George Bailey himself. The movie performed below expectations back in 1946, but several decades later, as the movie made its way into the public domain, "It's a Wonderful Life" grew into a holiday classic. Now there's many renditions of the story, including a staged radio show version - complete with old school sound effects - coming to the Marcus Center.
Published Dec. 15, 2014
Fans have been routinely left waiting for a Chris Rock movie that truly plays up to the standard of Chris Rock. Luckily, the wait is over with the arrival of "Top Five," a loose-limbed comedy about celebrity that feels like a movie worthy of its star - in both its voice and its significant supply of laughs.
Published Dec. 12, 2014
2014 is coming to a close, which means it's time to put my first full calendar year as an official working, adult member of society in the books (well, jury's still out on the adult part). Here are some of the most memorable moments - both good and bad - from a most memorable year.
Published Dec. 10, 2014
Luckily, what's currently housed and featured at the Racine Art Museum is just as interesting and compelling as the building itself: an expansive two-part exhibition called "in(Organic)," a compilation of art works that combine the natural and unnatural - in terms of thematic meaning and artistic medium - in ways both beautiful and often unnerving.
Published Dec. 9, 2014
What doesn't kill you supposedly makes you stronger. In the case of the sneakily incisive new Swedish dark comedy "Force Majeure," however, what doesn't kill you reveals your deepest faults to all of your loved ones. And they are not impressed.
Published Dec. 8, 2014
2014 was the year of the selfie. In the beginning of the year, there was the great Oscars selfie, a photo that literally broke Twitter for a few seconds. The word existed before, but after that, suddenly news stations and outlets were attempting to cram it into every headline (similar to "twerk" in 2013) and everybody was getting on board with the word. A part of that selfie insanity was the irony-drenched EDM hit "#Selfie" from The Chainsmokers.
Published Dec. 7, 2014
When it comes to the classic story of "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge has always been the star. But just as important to the story are the Cratchits, who embody the Christmas spirit and the human spirit so essential to Dickens's fable. For the past few years, the two characters have been played in the Milwaukee Rep's annual production by the same two Milwaukee actors: Jonathan Wainwright and Marti Gobel.
Published Dec. 6, 2014
In late July, Wisconsin-based author Lesley Kagen released the e-novella "The Undertaking of Tess." The brief story played the role of a charming and intriguing little introduction to the young Finley sisters Tessie and Birdie. That e-novella was merely the appetizer, however; "The Resurrection of Tess Blessing" serves as the full course.
Published Dec. 4, 2014
Three desperate everyday guys pushed so far to the edge that committing a crime is the only option? OK, that works, or at least that's relatable on a darkly comic level. Three desperate everyday guys pushed so far to the edge that committing a crime is the only option ... again? Well, now we're moving into sociopathic territory, not exactly the best place for a comedy sequel, like "Horrible Bosses 2," to roost.