He commands crowd participation - but not in the demanding "everybody say 'yeah'", throw your hands up sort of way. Most fans know his lyrics, or know some of them - and he knows how to integrate the crowd participation into his set. He gets you to throw your arms up by clamoring that asking all the beautiful people to shut up (because God Loves Ugly of course). He doesn't even ask the crowd to scream or throw their arms up - just tells the pretty people to keep quiet. The crowd goes nuts!?!? Even in image conscious Los Angeles - the pool of hip-hop hipsters embraced the the idea of being ugly.
Atmosphere spun through hit after hit, straying in favor of his newer material. The critic in me says this show wasn't as great as The Wiltern...but I also wasn't in the pit, right by the stage, in the thick of the passion. This time, I was up in the balcony, an outside observer of the maniacal sell out crowd at the Hollywood Palladium.
From an epic sold out show at the Wiltern almost a year ago, to a stellar performance at Coachella to an again sell out show at The Palladium...Atmosphere is onto something. I can remember seeing him in small rooms (The Blind Pig, The Grog Shop) in the early 2000s, when the shows were just as intense - but in a different, more thuggish sort of way. Now, more than a decade into his career - Slug's repertoire is more robust, his delivery even more passionate and captivating and his crowd communication skills at a pinnacle.
Slug makes you feel like he likes you. Like he is excited that you came to the concert. That he appreciates your presence. That, without you, the experience would not be the same. Unlike the hollow thank yous of the countless other performers I see, and the half-ass crowd props dolled out by other bands - Slug's appreciation feels genuine; Slug's thank you feels real.
Even though I was aching for more, especially after the "Guns and Cigarettes" finish, I left feeling bigger than both. I left with this feeling of satisfaction that is rarely achieved. Maybe that is why I keep coming back...