Toad’s kicked off a semester of noteworthy hip-hop acts last night with an impressive performance by a lineup of Rhymesayers artists, including indie superstar Atmosphere.

    Supported by a live band and sporting disheveled hair and a creepy mustache, Atmosphere was in fine form, giving fans unfamiliar but still excellent renditions of his most-loved songs, including “God Loves Ugly,” “Woman With the Tattooed Hands,” and new favorite “Sunshine.” Performing for more than an hour, he gave the crowded venue filled with a surprisingly equal mix of students and New Haven residents a performance well worth the $20 ticket. Although Atmosphere came most alive when singing old favorites, the crowd responded well to his new songs too, particularly the achingly sweet “Music Box.”

    Fans waiting to see Atmosphere, though, had to sit (or rather, stand) through a seemingly unending series of opening acts — 2 hours’ worth.  Mac Lethal, a Kansas City native whose act consisted mostly of listing things he hates — Fergie, Nickelback fans, Republicans—was particularly good, but restless concert-goers had to endure three separate appearances by Luckyiam, a mediocre, top-hat wearing performer whose high point was the beginning of his act, in which he rapped to the theme song from Showtime’s “Weeds.”

    Atmosphere was preceded directly by Seattle’s Grayskul, which consisted of two MCs, a bassist and a DJ. Grayskul had impressive beats but lacked the charisma necessary to justify their hour-long appearance. Still, despite the wait, it was a lineup that provided some memorable moments and appealed to fans of Atmosphere’s work.

    New Haven-area hip-hop fans have much to look forward to in the next few months. After a spring studded with shows with Talib Kweli and Clipse, Toad’s is following with RJD2 on October 17th, and its “Hip-Hop Live” show November 15th will feature Brother Ali, Rakim, and Ghostface Killah.

Listen to Atmosphere at