As any OS (Old Stoner) knows, you gotta take a bake break or risk gunking up the flow, and that’s particularly crucial on a big day like 4/20 — and not just any 4/20, but the first 4/20 after legal recreational marijuana sales started in the state.
This wasn’t just any celebration of 4/20, either. This was Snoop Dogg’s Wellness Retreat on Sunday night at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where a sellout crowd came to worship along with rap’s most enthusiastic toker, who brought along his puffing protégé, Wiz Khalifa.
“He’s the reason I know how to smoke weed,” Wiz said of the Doggfather during his own astonishingly energetic set, especially considering the amount of product consumed. In fact, after Smoke DZA and YG got a three-quarters-full house pumped up (it probably would have been fully packed if people could have parked, but yikes, what a mess), Wiz walked out smoking during “Work Hard, Play Hard” and never really stopped, even announcing, “Time for a smoke break,” as though his whole set hadn’t been one, and then switching it up from blunts and joints to a bong for an onstage photo opp.
Whether he took a break after he broke the mike stand after a rousing “Black and Yellow” followed by “We Dem Boyz” from his newest release “Blacc Hollywood,” it’s hard to say. He did encourage, “Let’s smoke some more weed,” before leaving.
Blazing nonstop for hours — that’s a rookie mistake unless you’re, well, the Dogg and have the torching tolerance. This was clearly St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve rolled into one giant, amateur-hour fatty-fest – watching the sky, it was clear that Morrison was definitely on the receiving end of a cosmic smoke puff shotgun.
There was a lot of time between Wiz and Snoop to watch all that smoke waft away, because the final set didn’t start until a few minutes after 11 p.m. And it was exactly that kind of miscalculation that led to a kind of lackluster roller coaster from the erstwhile Lion that was a bit of a letdown.
A stoned crowd is a chill crowd, of course. No one seemed to care that Snoop and his Nasty Dogg dress-up buddy (there to provide visual context on everything from enormous penises to mimicked weed smoking) took forever to come out, even in real time. Everyone just sat down and waited it out, staring off into space, murmuring quietly. There was no drunken yelling, just complacent acceptance of the situation.
But it was that same serene immobility that reigned when the Doggfather tried to whip the crowd into, well, moving or even any kind of response during Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which was confusing even for those who weren’t wasted. Why do we love rock ‘n’ roll right now? What we love right now is West Coast rap and weed.
Fortunately, we got some of that. Snoop asked several times if it was OK to go old school, and the crowd was most enthusiastic then; the highlights (get it?) included a crisply laid down “Lodi Dodi” and crowd favorite “Gin and Juice.” Meanwhile, the rapper has taken some heat lately for saying yes to every project, but he does fine on his own when he throws out pared-down versions of more heavily produced work with big names: even though he had plenty of onstage help during the 213’s “So Fly” and his remix of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.,” it’s his laconic drawl and consistent attitude that brought life to the beats.
Mostly, though, the slender Dogg – dressed in a red track suit with the word C.O.K.E. on the shoulders (Coke Boys Clothing, not the drink), shades firmly in place, braids tightly pulled into a ponytail — was all business, throwing out a mellow “Happy 4/20” here and a “Who’s got the motherfucking sticky?” there, but keeping to a brisk but steady pace.
“So what we smoke weed; We’re just having fun; We don’t care who sees,” could have been the motto of this 4/20 concert, the lyrics of the Snoop Dogg and Wiz song “Young, Wild & Free” that got the crowd going again. And smoking again. They didn’t care who saw, and as the crowd quietly slipped out with the smoke, the people who saw didn’t care, either.
Kyle Wagner is a regular contributor to Reverb and travel editor at The Denver Post.
Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.