It started with the openers. Not many national acts make room for Denver artists on big stages. But when the California-based rapper played the Mission Ballroom on Friday night, December 20, the lineup included Denver's DJ Squizzy Taylor, pop rapper Splyt and pop singer YaSi: a trifecta of local excellence.
Having so many hometown musicians on that lineup is a hopeful sign that the talent buyers at AEG might start putting more Denver musicians on the Mission stage. That’s the type of support the city’s music scene needs, and proud Denver music fans love.
I’m sad to admit that I was charging my phone and hunting down earplugs, so I missed Splyt’s set. But I caught some of Squizzy’s. Around 7:30 p.m., he had the half-full Mission looking like a nightclub, as the crowd danced to a mix of Top 40 and Latin. He shouted out to the audience, building up the hype, and keeping people moving.
As Squizzy packed his gear, YaSi's bandmates set up theirs, and soon she strutted on, shouting “Denver, what’s up?” She owned the house, connected with the audience, danced and sang with extraordinary energy, and prepped the crowd for Snow. Before kneeling on the edge of the stage and singing her brooding song “Again, Again I," YaSi reminded us to take care of our mental health.
“Two weeks ago there were huge protests all across Iran, and for about a week and a half, I didn't know if my family was alive or dead,” she continued. “While we all have our political opinions and you're entitled to that, because of democracy, I just want to encourage every single one of you in this room to vote, to register to vote, and not even for the presidential election but for the country and the state."
After YaSi played and people took a break to buy drinks and snap photos in front of the Mission’s murals, Snow’s hypemen goaded us to take shots of tequila and smoke, shouting: “If you don’t get your hands up, you’re a bitch-ass motherfucker.”
When a fight broke out near the front of the stage, the hypemen encouraged security to separate the people rather than give them the boot. “Hey, Redhead,” hypeman and rapper Jandro belted out to one of the squabblers, “I know you don’t want to get kicked out before Snow comes out.” And then he said, “We got to have a smoke break to calm these motherfuckers down.”
There was so much smoke blowing from the fog machines, it took a few minutes for it to clear enough for us to see her. But when she came to the front of the stage, she popped a champagne bottle and sprayed the crowd.
If Squizzy turned the Mission into a nightclub and Yasi turned it into a stadium, Snow made it feel like home.
“In every interview I do, I say Denver was the first city to make me cry, because of how much they fucking love me," she told us — as she always does.
And there's a lot for Denver to love.
Snow’s a rapid-fire rapper who grabs the crowd with catchy strong hooks that everybody quickly learns and sings along to. She makes fans feel insanely special. The way she interacts with her DJ and hypemen and the audience, she creates the illusion that we've been invited into her living room for a party. She rambles and banters, takes breaks for long shots of tequila and then, finally, just when you’ve had enough, erupts into her next song.
She played favorites like “Ay Ay Ay,” “Say Bitch,” "Bilingüe” and “Goin Off.” The crowd knew many of them by heart.
“Tonight’s the last show of the decade, bitch,” she said, explaining that she usually saved her voice for her next stop, but since she wouldn’t be playing until 2020, she’d perform till her throat was raw.
A couple more fights started toward the front of the crowd. While some artists might walk away from a confrontation and let security handle it, Snow came to the front of the stage and called out to the people brawling. “Not tonight,” she said. “Hey, you with the bleached hair. You’re fucking ruining my moment...you see, you’re really fucking this shit up for me.”
She looked like she was losing faith in Denver, even joking, “If you don’t get it together with the fights, I’ll name you New Mexico.”
Thankfully, the fights didn't derail Snow for good. “I’m a woman and a Mexican in a male-dominated industry. Do you know how hard it is for me to get where I am in this industry? And you do this dumb shit?" she asked.
She finally soothed fans by having everyone hold up a lighter or the lights on their phones. It was a beautiful sight and chilled things out. “You’ll make me cry again,” she said, calming the crowd down.
The rest of the show became one long celebration of all the communities that Donald Trump's administration is dragging down. People started throwing flags on the stage. One fan handed Snow a Mexican flag. Another gave her a knotted, gay-themed Mexican flag. As yet another fan took out a rainbow flag, she said, “Oh, my God, you popped out a gay one. You guys are like Pez dispensers.”
After that, she paid homage to Selena, leading the crowd in covers. Halfway through the night, she invited women of all sizes, shapes, ages and races who had rhythm, could twerk or could dance cumbia onto the stage. When one woman in the crowd started spatting with a security guard after he would not let her up, Snow stopped her. “Don’t start talking shit to him. He’s protecting this girl,” she said, pointing to herself
Then she invited gay men on stage. When she asked one to twerk for the crowd — and twerk he did — two women cut in front of him. Snow was appalled, scolded them and reminded the crowd that, no matter your race or gender, “We all got shit to learn, and we all got to start respecting each other.” She gave him a second chance.
There were “Fuck Trump” chants, as well as shout-outs to immigrants who came into the United States illegally and had amazing children — like Snow’s parents. She said in 2020, she would start charging more for her shows, because she didn’t want to hear about lesser artists who “rap three words a minute” going around stage “holding their pricks.”
“We can’t let these motherfuckers think our prices are this low,” she said. “Suck my fucking dick.”
Toward the end of the night, she and Jandro jumped into the audience and crowdsurfed. They sprayed fans with bottled water. Snow celebrated the family members who have had her back as she came out as a rapper and later as gay, and she reminded the crowd that they were her family, too.
“Would you believe my first show here was five people?” she asked to a couple thousand people in attendance. “A little over 2,500 people can be a little intimidating.”
She then wished us a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, as the audience left the ballroom and stepped in line, hoping to meet Snow and her bandmates at the merch table.
Hear Snow Tha Product, YaSi, and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.