Atmosphere at Soundset, 5/26/13
Photo by Erik Hess
Soundset, Canterbury Park
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Soundset has come a long way from its humble origins in the shadow of the Metrodome back in 2008. Skyrocketing ticket sales -- reportedly 28,000 this year -- and a subtle demographic shift over its six-year run have allowed Rhymesayers to grow a block party into a high-budget, destination music festival. Swelling to fill four stages, the festival's organizers have upped their production values on a yearly basis, culminating in Sunday's stylish, but thoroughly professional video-assisted, main-stage show. The two massive screens pumping out to-the-moment live footage of the performers, crowd, and hosts from a multitude of angles stand like monolithic testaments to how far Soundset has come.
South Minneapolis' dynamic duo of Slug and Ant may have painted themselves into a corner by continuing their headlining tradition with such regularity, and the resolute decision to do so has led to some interesting lineups. Atmosphere has been more than happy to take top billing over legends like the Pharcyde, De La Soul and most of Wu-Tang at this point, so their decision to finally step aside and allow Snoop Dogg the final slot seemed surprising. Make no mistake though, Soundset is very much still their show, and if the massive crowd eating up every word didn't convince you of that, then Slug's stage-banter, awash in fatherly pride, sure would.
Photo by Erik Hess
Photos by Erik Hess
That's why the standout moment of the show occurred during the final song, in this case "Trying to Find a Balance," when Slug finally let his level of investment in Soundset slip out. As the song's intro portion passed by, the MC changed a few words on the fly: "The last time I felt as sick and contradictive as this/Was when the tornado ate my show last year!" With a wild smile, the Rhymesayer lept into the rest of the song with a renewed energy and confidence could have made for a knockout earlier in the night. That little flash of personality, and its underlying meaning about Atmosphere's continued excitement for their Soundset performance, was incredibly welcome. The crowd gave the love right back too, and "Trying to Find a Balance" became the awesome victory-lap that Atmosphere's whole set should have been.
Critic's Bias: Pretty cold and uncomfortable by this point in the day.
Random Notebook Dump: Slug did a totally badass Pete Townshend windmill-air-guitar impression during the outro of "Balance". Future in stadium rock?
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.