The air hung coolly over a sweaty-shirted crowd outside the Ogden Theatre Saturday night and by 9 p.m. all seemed on track for the sold-out Snoop Dogg show and Denver’s first live listen to the rap impresario’s tenth studio album, “Malice in Wonderland.”
But if it was enchantment that the crowd was seeking, they were in for a long wait.
The opening acts do not merit exposition beyond saying that any of the positive qualities recognizable in hip-hop were not present. Failing to motivate the people with their music, they encouraged everyone to toke up while they chucked rolled up T-shirts and $1 bills into the crowd.
Anybody wanting a piped in concert of a-sides from the canon of Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Eminem were in luck… as were those who had forgotten their one hitters. But after 90 minutes of reeling in the years and sharing weed with strangers, restlessness outpaced anticipation and the cotton-mouthed crowd began to boo loudly.
At 12:30 a.m., an unapologetic Snoop emerged wearing his uniform of black jeans, white T-shirt and sunglasses. Bathed in bling, including-perhaps, ironically, a Cartier watch, he brandished a bombastic diamond knuckle ring bearing his name in script lettering. Clutching a diamond-studded microphone, he then quickly launched into the Dr. Dre classic “Next Episode,” reviving a sleepy crowd with the alliterative “ba da da da da…” following seamlessly with a handful of “Doggystyle” hits.
For the most part, Snoop was in top form and in good company. Flanked on both sides by two capable male vocalists and backed by an affable DJ who made sure everyone made some “mother f**king noise” and put their “hands in the air,” he was unflagging in his pot-addled persona and smooth flow style. But after 30 minutes, the show’s lack of focus became apparent. An old man inexplicably shimmied his way on and off stage left, a la Vaudeville, a wide assortment of “ladies” were plucked from the audience only to lazily bump and grind and Snoop asked that lighters be illuminated to honor the now 14-year passing of Tupac Shakur.
Eventually the new tracks “Gangsta Luv,” “That’s Tha Homie” and “I Wanna Rock” were played, yet the songs seemed more familiar than groundbreaking. Plus, it was late and everyone was so, so high.
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Kate Lacroix is a Boulder-based writer and new contributor to Reverb. Check out her blog.