Method Man and Redman, who were recently immortalized on the cover of High Times with their faces carved into an imaginary "Mount Kushmore," played a sold-out show on 4/20 at Cervantes' Masterpiece. No surprises there. Also Leftover Salmon was playing in the street right outside, with members of Little Feat and Elephant Revival. The relationship between the two shows was...fluid. Wait, what?
The folks at Cervantes' Masterpiece decided to try out something new this year for their 4/20 celebration. They added cult jam rockers (and Colorado natives) Leftover Salmon to the bill for an outside-only street party. And the real kicker is that the tickets were going for $4.20 for a while. That was successful -- they sold thousands of tickets, and they were selling more at the door.
Cervantes' succeeded in throwing a block party. It's just that, for a lot of the afternoon, it was outside the fence. After a long line to pick up tickets at will-call, concert-goers were stunned to see a separate line to get into the event snaking along Welton Street toward 29th avenue. At its peak, it stretched for a third of a mile. But in true 4/20 form, the line evolved into an impromptu party. "Everyone cool is out here!" one dude yelled out as the joints started to spark. About thirty minutes into our wait, a guy rolled up with a plastic bag full of cold beer. When we tried to offer him a dollar for his wares, he just shrugged it off. "No man. Don't worry about it. But I'll take some weed if you've got that!"
The crowd only really started to get restless when they realized how dangerously close 4:20 p.m. was, with no hope of anyone making it through the gate on time. Both shows were slated to start at the magical hour. The closer the time came, the more people were nervously checking their watches and calling out the countdown to each other. "Six minutes."
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When the clock struck 4:20, with hundreds of people still waiting to get in, folks started cheering and clapping. From the other side of the fence, we could hear the beginning notes of Leftover Salmon's set. A guy started to light a joint that was the size of a footlong hotdog. Everyone around was instagramming the shit out of it.
On a nearby wall, two cops were leaning and shooting the shit, ignoring the illegal street party that had sprouted up right in front of them. They were looking for fights, they said. Just trying to keep people safe. After all, at last year's Civic Center celebration, someone opened fire, wounding a few people. As for guns in this crowd? One of our fellow party-goers crushed that concern: "All that seems like too much work. I'm far too lazy to pull a trigger right now."
The block party was set up in proper festival style, with a stage close to 25th Avenue and decent speakers spread throughout the street. A speaker was blasting jammy bluegrass right in front of the door to Cervantes, where you could hear faint traces of hip hop beats escaping. Walking out of the hot street party and into this dark, smoky theatre felt like going into a secret club. Cervantes is, of course, more limited than the expanse of the street. Method Man ticket holders could go to Leftover Salmon. But Leftover Salmon folks couldn't come in for Method Man. Their loss. Method Man and Redman were exuberantly bouncing around onstage when we walked into the club, giving the usual banter about how much our state rules. But something felt more genuine about these two. "We've been Broncos fans for 15 years," Method Man told the crowd. "They lost the Superbowl, but they still went!" The love for Colorado was palpable throughout the show, and the crowd was eating it up. They didn't shy away from the old hits either, which pleased the superfans. "All right you beautiful, stanky people of Coloardo, we're gonna take you back to 1994!" Method Man shouted, before launching into "Method Man" from Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The 4/20 theme played out as strongly inside Cervantes as it had on the street. Though management had hung up pleading signs behind the bar ("If you smoke anything inside the venue, you are putting our liquor license in jeopardy"), the club was thick with weed smoke. And how can you resist, really, when Redman is running around like a maniac screaming, "Roll that shit! Light it! Smoke it!"
The whole event was fun and positive, with people everywhere becoming fast best friends. Plus, since 4/20 shared billing with Easter this year, hundreds of concert goers were improbably sporting blue and pink bunny ears on their heads. Maybe that's what Method Man was talking about when he got sentimental toward the middle of the set. He looked out over the crowd, beamed a huge smile and said, "Colorado -- I like your weed, but I love your style!"
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