MTV News has been keeping a close watch on the backstage happenings at the 2009 Outside Lands Festival, and we've been talking to so many artists that it's sometimes difficult to find the time to actually stand in front of a stage and watch a band perform. But there was one person I definitely wanted to be in front of this weekend at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and that person was Slug from Atmosphere. The Minneapolis rapper brought a healthy dose of hip-hop to the early afternoon proceedings and drew an impressive crowd despite the chilly conditions and the normal final day malaise that settles over most festivals.
Those of us who crowded in to see the show were not disappointed, as Slug ripped through a rugged set full of call-and-response anthems like "God Loves Ugly," "Guns and Cigarettes" and "Trying to Find a Balance." He brought out fellow Minnesotan Brother Ali to run hype and tag-team on a few verses, many of which included shout-outs to the Beastie Boys, who were supposed to headline Sunday night's festivities but had to pull out because of MCA's cancer treatment (they were replaced by Tenacious D, who close out the weekend tonight). Slug dropped in references to Beasties hits like "Intergalactic," "Slow and Low" and "Sabotage," all of which were greeted warmly by the rhyme-loving crowd nodding their heads and waving their hands.
It was a classic Atmosphere set, full of equal parts swagger, angst, funk and fury. Slug's lyrics may be complex and hyper-literate, but like any good MC, he still knows how to move a crowd.