Atlanta United officially launched the highly-anticipated ‘404 Kit’ with a special event Thursday night. Hosted at The Bank in the northwest Atlanta neighborhood of Collier Heights, the theme was clear from the moment attendees walked into the venue: Atlanta circa the 90s and early 2000s.
The first clue to the night's presentation was the wall art display featuring Atlanta celebrity stalwarts such as Dominique, Deion, Monica, Usher, Ludacris, the list goes on. After all, it’s impossible to tell the story of Atlanta without including sports and media, especially music. A classically-upholstered couch - covered in plastic of course - with a landline phone sitting next to it completed the display. In keeping with the concept, old-school box television sets were stacked on stage next to the DJ booth. Even the lounge tables were adorned with board games like Guess Who? and candies, mainly Smarts and Nerds. I could almost taste them; actually, I did. I couldn’t resist taking a couple home. There was also a Polaroid photo setup if you wanted to keep a memento of the night.
The 404 kit was the star of the show, naturally. The jerseys feature the letters ‘ATL’ in light blue & ‘UTD’ in neon yellow against a black background. The font style and coloring pattern are supposed to give a graffiti-style, spray-painted look. According to the atlutd.com site, “the colors and design of the kit are inspired by the cultural and global impact of Atlanta from the 90s to now.” The colors made up part of the theme for the night, especially at the spray paint station where patrons could have a t-shirt or bucket hat painted.
Attendees were invited to sample cocktails such as the Golden Spike, the Dirty South, and the Bankhead Bounce. Like the drinks, the music was unmistakably Atlanta. With a steady flow of classics coming through the speakers, it’s fair to say the DJs understood the assignment. Those who stayed long enough were treated to a surprise appearance by Waka Flocka and Roscoe Dash, who took an already hyped crowd to another level. Waka has loved Atlanta United since its inception. You may remember his “Dreads Shakin” anthem that he recorded and released for the team in November 2021.
This event was different from previous kit releases I’ve attended. Because the design had already been released, there was less suspense leading up to that night. This felt more like a celebration, perhaps recognition of what Atlanta has contributed to the culture. I can’t fault the presentation, even if the design left a bit to be desired. Given the meaning behind the kit, I feel that more representation of Atlanta itself would’ve been appropriate, like street signs, neighborhoods, or even area codes. It is the ‘404’ kit after all. Take what New York Red Bulls did for their ‘Freestyle’ kit, for example. The execution of the graffiti design appropriately represents the “local scene” of New York Hip-Hop, as Kevin Maulbeck (Art Director for RBNY) put it. Unfortunately, the 404 kit looks a bit more like a gentrified mural. The next time Atlanta United gets an opportunity to design a third kit, they need to think more outside the box, which is what Atlanta culture is genuinely about.