With a lineup in which the youngest performer was Bizzy Bone of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony at 35, one might assume that this show was doomed to an early bedtime and fading energy as the night wore on. In reality, the crowd got more and more hyped as legend after legend graced the stage of Comfort Dental Amphitheatre, finally culminating about halfway through Snoop Dogg's set with total audience involvement, in perfect cadence, answering the night's ultimate question: What is his motherfucking name?
That's actually been a point of contention of late, with so much attention given to Snoop's highly scrutinized name change. For all intents and purposes, at this concert Snoop was still a Dogg. The Lion had not entered the building, which was just as well; Snoop gave a thoroughly entertaining performance, commendably mixing mega hits with old-school classics. Coming into the show, it was hard to appreciate just how many spins this guy has gotten, leading and featured, over his twenty-year career. What Snoop lacks in technical chops, he more than makes up for in universal appeal and charisma: The amphitheatre's patrons were invited to join in verse after quotable verse.
Snoop used his eclectic catalogue to effectively manage the crowd's energy -- never pushing his fans to the point of exhaustion but never allowing them to rest on their laurels. After the emotional high of "Gin & Juice," Snoop took his foot off the gas with "Wrong Idea" before immediately jumping into "Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang" to get the party going again. Somewhat surprisingly, Snoop opted to close with his and Wiz Khalifa's recent hit, "Young, Wild & Free," to mixed reactions. Although crowd involvement had been universal up to that point, suddenly, the male voices were absent -- at least those that had dropped.
Continue reading for the rest of the acts on the bill and a Critic's Notebook.
Although Snoop was technically the night's headliner, it's difficult to say definitively that it was his show. Ice Cube owns a legacy and commands a respect that, in hip-hop, can't be matched by any living MC. And while you can knock him for cashing out and producing all those bubblegum movies, dude can still rip a mike like nobody's business.
Though the anger that once fueled Ice Cube's aggressive style has clearly subsided, if you didn't know the guy was making family movies, you might not be able to tell. And speaking of multiple personalities, Cube has to be the only guy who can both c-walk (which he did alongside fellow blue-lover WC) and lead a wholesome family on a road trip with full credibility.
Leading into Ice Cube were Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, a longtime marvel of the hip-hop world. The fact, which they demonstrate, that it's possible to transition from beautiful, soulful harmonizing to rapid-fire staccato over gunshot sound effects and back again is one of the true miracles of gangster rap. Bone Thugs also made some touching tributes to 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., mentor Eazy-E and the rest of the fallen soldiers in the Crossroads.
E-40, a legend in his own right, was also thoroughly entertaining, bringing some flavor to the show with his one-of-a-kind style. Though he has never been a household name for casual hip-hop fans, 40 showed that he has his share of hits while performing well-known songs "Snap Yo Fingers" and "Tell Me When to Go," as well as lesser-known, but equally fantastic jams including "Sprinkle Me" and "Function."
Personal Bias: I hadn't been to Fiddler's -- er, Comfort Dental Amphitheatre -- since I saw (most of) the Who roughly ten years ago with my parents. It was nice to go to a show that I can safely say my parents would have hated.
Random Detail: Amendment 64 is still hanging in the balance -- though you wouldn't know it from this show.
By the Way: Joining Snoop on stage were his exceedingly endearing uncle "Junebug," occasionally the Dogg Pound (who also performed to open the show) and a pair of intensely sexy dancers. These women were good. Really good. Truly, you could book them to dance alone to a Doggystyle cassette tape and people would still pay to see them.
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