By Noah Sanders
Better than: Watching How High sober.
Last night's Method Man/Redman show could've been swiped directly from the two veteran rapper's significant mid to late-nineties heyday. Everything was there: the clouds of weed smoke funneling upwards from the crowd, the bass-heavy party raps about chronic smoke and gettin' down, and, of course, the two massively blunted emcees commanding the stage. With one of the shoddiest light shows ever barely illuminating the duo and a sorely dated special effects screen looming over the red-eyed audience, well hell, it was 1996 all over again.
From the start it was readily apparent the long-time friends were having a good time careening through a set of profane cuts from their recently released Blackout 2, and a small but significant selection of their more legendary tracks. The two emcees bounded around the stage like some sort of street cheerleading squad, weed-laced smiles firmly pressed on their faces. They were unable to stop moving or to stop baiting the all-too-eager-to-please crowd with call-and-response lyrical challenges. Meth, decked out in shiny shorts and an enormous purple Champion sweatshirt (yes, Champion still makes clothing) and Red, trademark hunter's cap pulled firmly over his eyes, pressed the mikes to their mouths, their lyrical virtuoso still firmly intact after all these years and all those blunts.
Mezzanine's immense, somewhat swanky space felt downright homey in the presence of these two hip-hop innovators. The exposed stage and non-existent security presence allowed for comfortable interaction between audience and legends that the stadiums and arenas the pair usually play just wouldn't allow. Perhaps it wasn't a conscience decision, but the pared down lighting brought things back to basics, Red and Meth reminding us what things were like before the television shows and deodorant commercials changed everything.
At times the duo's well-worn antics came across as tired, their banter knee deep in the standard tropes of a traditional hip-hop show (how many times have we heard an emcee imploring the crowd to "bounce"?). But moments like Meth's explosive rendition of his classic "Method Man" brought fists pumping in to the air, that burst of 1994 energy reinvigorating a barely lilting crowd.
Sure, Meth and Red didn't strive to change the face of the hip-hop performance, but damn if they didn't leave a thousand or so ardent fans dry-mouthed and absolutely satisfied.
Personal bias: Though this critic could've done without the remix of the Kriss Kross classic "Jump", it was really satisfying to see a full house of blinged out fellows and ladies pogoing to the early-'90s track.