Posted by Pat Baxter on 08/17 at 08:49 AM
Atlas Soundtrack certainly made an impression last Saturday night among newly graduated Penn State students and casual bar-hoppers at Bar Bleu. As I arrived, I was unsure of how their mix of styles would work (reggae, rock, hip-hop, funk). But by the end of the night, I witnessed a genre experiment gone right cementing them, in my mind, as one of the best bands in State College, and a refreshing break from the cover-band antics that is typically the State College bar music scene.
If I had to compare Atlas Soundtrack to anyone, I would say they are not unlike Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, or even Limp Bizkit of old. However, their style is their own.
Right from the intro they settled into a smooth pocket groove aided by the skill of drummer Josh and Kyle on bass. It was a rhythm complimented by the jazzy chordal voicings from guitarist Matt, who also sang ambient-like vocals. From here they went into reggae/rock/hip-hop mode building up to “This Man’s Story.” At this point Drew, the MC/rapper, came up on stage. I was skeptical of how Drew’s MCing would mix with an atmosphere already set by the intro. However, it worked surprisingly well as Drew and Matt worked off each other with polish. Starting with “Hats Off” and continuing with “Mexicana,” Drew took over with rapping, taking command of the stage with confidence. He can definitely lay down rhymes with the best of them.
The band did take some time to warm up to the crowd. Perhaps it was still early in the evening for patrons, or they were still getting used to the sound. But the band persisted, slowly winning them over, due in no small part to Drew’s skill as an MC. He was able to work the crowd, pumping enthusiasm into the room and garnering cheers from the audience.
The band finished the first set with “Funk,” a song that climaxed into an all out rock jam punctuated by a ray gun sound effect from Mike. Indeed, Mike is a talent on guitar. He did some fine work with his effects pedals, demonstrated an intelligent use of delay and flanger, and was disciplined enough to never overuse the wah pedal. Throughout the night, he played within himself. He didn’t try to force the issue while getting the most out of his gear. I’d consider him one of the better players in State College.
By the second set, people were breaking into spontaneous dance, riding the energy of the band (and of libations no doubt). This set featured such songs as “Your Beat” and “Lockdown.” At this point, Kyle’s congas took full effect. He was a fitting compliment to Atlas Soundtrack’s talented drummer Josh. Josh’s drums were tight, flavored with clever hi-hat fills and an assertive piccolo snare (my favorite kind of snare drum). Kyle also did turn-tables, unfortunately it wasn’t very audible.
The audience became fully invested with “The Devil’s Coming,” my favorite tune of the night. It’s a heavier song that had a Rage Against the Machine kind of feel to it. This song rocked the joint, blasting energy throughout the space and sending out a positive vibe to all who listened.
As Atlas Soundtrack concluded with their third set, they left a definite mark on the Bar Bleu faithful. It left me wondering how their sound will evolve as they continue to play in State College and beyond.
Josh - Drums
Matt - Guitar/Vocals
Mickey - Bass
Drew Dubb - MC/Vocals
Kyle - Percussion/Turntables
Find Atlas Sountrack on Facebook.
Listen to their Myspace playlist.
If you couldn’t make it out to Bar Bleu last Saturday, fear not. They have another show at the Phyrst on Wednesday (8/18) at 10:30p.m.
Author: Pat Baxter
Bio: A native of Pittsburgh, Pat Baxter is now working for WPSU/Penn State Public Broadcasting in video on-demand and multi-media. He enjoys playing guitar and bass, listening to music and watching films. He likes listening to grunge/alternative rock, experimental and prog rock, and jazz/fusion. His favorite rock bands include the Smashing Pumpkins (1990s era), David Bowie, Talking Heads, King Crimson, Buckethead, Frank Zappa, Mars Volta, David Torn, and the Cure.
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