Review: Tour De Friends Part Deux Parties at Salt Shed with Atmosphere, NOFUN! and HEBL

Last Friday The Salt Shed campus was abuzz with all the goings on. The new Goose Island Brewpub was open and had a line out the door that was only rivaled by the mass of Atmosphere diehards making their way into Salt Shed proper. Having experienced an Ant and Slug show way in the past, just under 20 years ago, I wasn't surprised. Atmosphere has a huge following and they certainly showed up for this massive show.

Opening up was the hip-hop collective NOFUN! and despite their name they definitely had a good time on stage. Their energy was infectious, dolling out these rapid fire tracks that truly never let up. NOFUN! was down a member due to a motorcycle accident, about which they enthusiastically declared "HE SURVIVIED!", but their cohesiveness was not affected. All the members on stage just flowed off each other effortlessly and really brought the party energy at the Salt Shed to a new height.

After that high energy set, it was time for something a little different but just as entertaining. Ant of Atmosphere came out and introduced HEBL, who hit it off with a stellar DJ set in the middle of the night. I know that sometimes DJ sets can be a little obvious and run of the mill, but this one really dug into something a little more. HEBL delivered industrial beats that built upon their experimental nature quite well, giving the growing crowd an excellent palate cleanser between the two more explosive sets.

When it finally came time for the main event, the crowd was more than ready. Slug, Atmosphere's MC, had been hyping up the tour over the past couple weeks, often sharing the tattoos his fans have gotten, inspired by the act's songs and lyrics. Atmosphere has been going strong since 1996, so this crowd was as diverse as they come. Whether they were there from the beginning or newly discovering Slug and Ant's music, they were ecstatic for it.

The setlist spanned Atmosphere's entire catalog, giving everyone just a taste of every era of Ant and Slug's collaboration. And when I say just a taste I really mean it. Practically every album was presented with a single song off of it barring the newest release So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously and obvious heavy hitter releases like When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold and You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having. But no matter the track, everyone was bouncing along to the jams.

With Ant and HEBL behind the DJ stand and Ant right at the edge of the stage, Atmosphere was completely in charge of the crowd, guiding them through the night with a little banter flowing right into each song, feeling like a throwback hip-hop set. Slug's determined flow and smile on his face seemed destined to go all night, even as lifelong favorites like "God Loves Ugly" came early in the set. The whole affair ended with "Trying To Find A Balance" ushering the crowd off with yet another classic.

All photos by Julian Ramirez.

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Julian Ramirez