Colorado has had no shortage of incredible hip-hop performances lately. This September 17th was no exception as Atmosphere headlined Red Rocks on the last official Sunday of summer 2023. With additional performances from Breakbeat Lou, The Grouch and Eligh (with DJ Fresh), Mr. Dibbs, Souls of Mischief and Danny Brown, the whole night showcased talent from multiple facets of underground hip-hop.
The show began with a set by legendary DJ Breakbeat Lou (aka Luis Flores). The DJ acknowledged hip-hop’s 50th anniversary and hyped up the crowd, playing hits from every corner of the genre’s wide-reaching cultural footprint. The set also included a special appearance from Raw Wattage and the iconic Large Professor.
Afterwards, DJ Fresh took the stage to introduce hip-hop duo The Grouch and Eligh. With the setting sun painting a blue and pink sky over Denver, the rappers captivated the audience as they performed songs from their respective solo careers and collaborations. The duo’s set concluded with a powerful performance of the Living Legends song “Never Fallin’.”
Up next was Mr. Dibbs, who exhibited a dazzling display of turntablism and hard-hitting beats. Playing a selection of popular hits and original productions intertwined with superb scratching and mixing techniques, the DJ left the crowd stunned with his performance.
The concert continued with the Oakland hip-hop group Souls of Mischief. The group’s soulful, jazzy style signaled a well-received change of pace. The group informed the crowd that in addition to hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, it was also the 30th anniversary of their classic record, 93 ‘Til Infinity. The audience vibed along as the group performed tracks from the album.
Danny Brown was the last opener of the night, gracing the stage with performances from his unique and experimental discography. The setlist included a selection of tracks from his albums XXX, Old and Atrocity Exhibition. At one point, the rapper performed a medley of songs from his recent JPEGMAFIA collaboration, SCARING THE HOES. Brown also previewed an upcoming song produced by acclaimed producer The Alchemist.
Everyone is Doing a Fantastic Job!
As Atmosphere arrived on stage, the words of reassurance “Everyone is doing a fantastic job!” flashed on the screen. The message was fitting for the group’s opening song: the optimistic anthem “Okay.”
With a legacy that extends all the way back to the ’90s, the revered underground duo (consisting of rapper Slug and producer Ant) are no strangers to the stage, and it shows. The setlist covered much of their extensive discography and included fan favorites such as “Yesterday” and “GodLovesUgly.” “I might be old but I still know the words,” Slug joked. The mesmerized crowd rapped along and matched the group’s energy the whole night.
Towards the end of the night, Slug stated that he did not believe in encores and would instead treat us to some “bonus features.” During this portion, the rapper performed an inventive freestyle where he shouted out the previous performers. The set concluded with an exhilarating rendition of “Trying to Find a Balance.”
A Showcase of Underground Hip-Hop
Denver’s streak of iconic hip-hop concerts continued as Red Rocks was treated to a night of performances from this roster of rap artists. Atmosphere and all of the support acts demonstrated features of underground hip-hop — and they all did “a fantastic job.”