Should you find yourself standing in front of a sold-out Red Rocks crowd that has their hands up in the air bobbing along with your opening beat, take a cue from Wiz Khalifa and assume your place at the throne by doing exactly what you want for an entire hour. The genius behind the "Kush and OJ" mixtape opened the night with "Cabin Fever." With a full band backing him, Khalifa stormed the stage clad in a leather jacket and fedora, dancing behind his scarf wrapped microphone stand.
"Cabin Fever" was just the start of the insanity, as an incessant cloud of smoke began billowing from the steps. Khalifa is no stranger to the ganja, and with frequent requests and nods to the amazing kush in Colorado, it was apparent that there was no shortage people who had packed a blunt or two.
Surprisingly, Khalifa's set seemed rather tame given his rawer style of his radio tracks. Even so, he showcased plenty of vocal prowess and a keen ability to mesh with the live instrumentation. Each musician was given their moment in the spotlight, but it was the drummer who stole the show momentarily with a double-bass thumping solo -- heavy on the high hats -- and with the fervor of any rock drummer. Just following this brief interlude, Khalifa's keyboardist introduced the catchy keys of "Young, Wild and Free."
Since it hit the airwaves, the track has more or less become the anthem of nearly every college kid in America. Espousing the idea of partying and being care-free, the song advocates not caring because it's just about having fun. Sure, it's pretty corny and seemingly custom built to fire up sororities or fraternities before a night on the town, but people love it, and it can probably be credited as one the reasons Red Rocks was sold out.
"Ink My Whole Body" was perhaps the most exciting part of the night, with Khalifa revealing his entire chest, arms and neck, proudly displaying his thoughts on getting tattooed. No Khalifa show is complete without a tribute to his hometown of Pittsburgh, and when "Black and Yellow" came on, everyone was repeating in unison "Yea, uh huh, you know what it is," followed by the other lines, which they knew by heart.
By now, Mac Miller is probably worthy of a headlining spot of his own. Teaming up with Khalifa on this tour was brilliant given that the two of them have pretty much taken over the ears of college-age kids across america. Both speak to this generation of kids who like to party, and both are relatively the same age as the crowd, so there's no false connection or relation. Miller opened with "America," which, again, is just the same old nonsense about smoking and drinking and having your middle finger up with your hand on your nuts. It's nice to say "fuck you" sometimes, and Miller proudly does it with a visceral beat and even edgier lyrics.
Miller is kind of taking over in the same way that Atmosphere did in the past, speaking to a generation of white kids who are just struggling to grow up doing whatever they want. "Lucky Ass Bitch," Miller's collaborative effort with Juicy J about a girl who's got too much money and no proper brains on how to use it, is a vengeful track full of jealousy and covet. It could just be an ode to an ex-girlfriend who was rich that Miller's saw fit to call out. Just the same, on this night, Miller delivered the track with what you'd imagine was the same passion and emotion as the day the lyrics were penned.
Just before Miller's set, Chevy Woods opened up the night right, reminding everyone who and what they were there to see. "When I say Taylor Gang, you say O-D" had the whole place singing along, and whether you had on your Chuck Taylors or not, you were going to be feeling the crew. DJ Bonics held down the tables all night, throwing out old school cuts in between sets, and keeping things on lock for both Chevy Woods and Mac Miller. As the official DJ, Bonics scratched and scribbled under the vocals of all the acts with precision, furthering the reputation that Taylor Gang represents on all fronts, and that it's not just the voice of someone spouting off about Pittsburgh.
Personal Bias: I think Mac Miller is what Mac Lethal never turned into, which is bummer, because I like Mac Lethal way more. Plus, last time I saw Mac Miller, he played an acoustic version of Oasis' "Wonderwall," and that was pretty much the dumbest thing I've ever seen.
Random Detail: Wiz Khalifa is kind of taking on this whole Jimi Hendrix rock persona adapted to the rap world.
By the Way: Did anyone else smell marijuana?