Saturday, April 20, 2013
Better than: Becoming mired in the carmageddon that surrounded the east end of Golden Gate Park all day Saturday.
1. Four large men near me spend roughly two hours waiting for Snoop thusly: While cradling a cocktail in his arm, one packs and rolls a blunt to approximately the thickness of an index finger. He then holds a lighter up to the brown thing and sparks it, blowing a long flume of smoke through the flame. The four men wordlessly pass around the blunt, each taking a long, luxuriant pull. Every dude gets to hit every blunt perhaps twice, but with no hurry. When it becomes too short to smoke, whoever is holding the thing drops it on the floor. Then the first man cradles his cocktail again and begins rolling another. This process continued for at least three or four blunts. How they remained standing and drinking and rolling and chain-smoking like this, I do not know.
2. An hour after he is supposed to begin performing, Snoop has (according to a bartender at the Fillmore) not even arrived at the club. I am told that his plane has not even landed at SFO. During the wait there is a DJ onstage, and a very enthusiastic man in a grey hoodie who comes out, assures us that it will be only a little longer, and tries to rhyme over the DJ's generic reggae rhythms. Behind me, a woman seems to be falling asleep in her boyfriend's arms. At various intervals, smoke pours out of every mouth in sight. Since I haven't smoked -- yet -- the wait for Snoop is probably the most boring two hours I have ever spent at the Fillmore.
3. Suddenly, with no fanfare and little warning, there he is: blue Adidas tracksuit, wiry dreadlocks, blunt in hand, nimbly working his way through "Gin and Juice." Onstage with Snoop there is a DJ, two hype men, one person wearing a large dog costume, and two or three scantily clad female dancers for certain songs. He performs fondly remembered hits (or at least his verses from them), like "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang," "What's My Name," and "Drop It Like It's Hot." When Snoop is rhyming on these, his voice doesn't sound like it's being supported by a backing track. He sounds fluid and agile. Bolstered by the careening funk of his DJ, the performance is at times totally thrilling.
4. He also plays sections of hits we would rather not remember, like Katy Perry's "California Gurls." In between the better moments there is lots of filler, where Snoop turns the show over to his hype men, or paces aimlessly around the stage, or walks to the back and puffs nonchalantly on his blunt. The entire performance lasts about 45 minutes. It easily could have been 15 minutes shorter.
5. The crowd shuffles out of the show slowly, seemingly dazed. By now fresh air feels novel. On Fillmore street, someone muses to a friend that this was the worst show they've ever seen. This isn't true -- there were excellent moments. But were the long wait, the $75 ticket price, and the inconsistent set worth those few minutes Snoop poured out his best rhymes on a stage not very far away? No, not really. And not that it mattered. For many, the star of the evening wasn't onstage -- it was in baggies, in blunts, in the air. Snoop was just another fleeting vision.