Atmosphere Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC - September 14, 2003

Minnesota's MC Slug may not be a household name, but the Midwest spitter has already become indie-rap's first crossover star — a collegiate version of Eminem with charisma to burn. On his latest West Coast stop, the Atmosphere front-man demonstrated why modern-rock radio stations have added the group to its play lists as he delivered a set that had as much to do with punk rock as hip-hop. Stage-diving, crowd-surfing and moshing were all in order at the Commodore, as Slug incited an outrageously ferocious response from his pale-skinned admirers. Rolling out songs from the new Seven's Travels LP, the hyper-literate MC almost set the stage alight, stalking back and forth like an impassioned emo crooner from punk's days of glory. New tunes like "Shoes," "Trying to Find a Balance" and "Good Times" all went down a storm; in typically black comic style, Slug dedicated the last of those tunes to "all the depressed women in the house," a declaration that somehow earned him a raucous response from the ladies. If nothing else, this show proved that Slug can do no wrong: when he requested a smoke, fans showered the stage with dozens of cigarettes; when he asked the crowd to raise their hands, all complied; when he tried to leave the stage, the heads called him back for two encores. As electric a showman as exists in hip-hop, Slug is the first artist to make the union of rap and rock a successful proposition. Toto, we're not in the Bronx anymore.