Live Review: 311, Snoop Dogg – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Irvine
Mon, 30 Jun 2008 11:32:59
At the Irvine stop of 311's 2008 Unity Tour, Snoop Dogg's set was a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll and a lot of gangsta rap. For nearly an hour at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Live Nation), Snoop Dogg proved why he remains rap's most forward-thinking "P.I.M.P." His set swayed from stoned, soulful rhymes about "gettin' down" to classic, pistol-poppin' O.G. anthems. After a montage of footage from classic gangster movies, "Big Snoop Dogg" busted out on stage with "Next Episode." It was the perfect opener, because the crowd immediately started singing, grinding and, of course, smoking. He did a Crip-slide across the stage, spitting each verse flawlessly, matching his vocal cadence to Dr. Dre's classic beat. Next up, Snoop and his full band fired off "Hell Yeah." The song's crunchy guitars matched Snoop's edgy lyrics, and it could've started a mosh pit. "Staxxx In My Jeans" also maintained a metallic edge, as Snoop showed that he's gangsta enough to rock.
After inciting an "I wanna get fucked up" chant, Snoop kicked it old school on "Gin and Juice," which led to the biggest sing-a-long of the night. Even though the jagged guitars and raw distortion showed Snoop's rawk side, he still knows how to please the girls. He smiled and exclaimed, "Nobody cares about the ladies like Snoop Dogg does," before jumping into "I Wanna Fuck You." Midway through the song, Snoop's saxophonist churned out a jazzy solo that wouldn't have been out of place on a Miles Davis record, but strangely, it suited Snoop just fine. Snoop even took the time to show props, pointing at the saxophonist through a haze of smoke on stage. "That's That Shit" and "Sexual Eruption" also targeted "the beautiful ladies in the crowd." Snoop commented, "I'm not much of an R&B singer. That's not my bag, but I want to give you ladies something that makes you feel good." Live, Snoop pulls off the sexy songs with an undeniable charm, as he keeps dancing, and The Snoopadelics keep grooving.
The biggest surprise came when Everlast hit the stage for a spot-on rendition of his country collaboration with Snoop on Ego Trippin', "My Medicine." The twangy guitars complimented Snoop's voice, and the new cut elicited big cheers. Following it up with the classic House of Pain jam, "Jump Around," didn't hurt either, and Everlast's appearance was much welcomed. Snoop masterfully proved to be the simultaneously violent and mellow "G," brandishing razor sharp rhymes that cackled like Beretta shells during "What's My Name?" Snoop still has a throne in the hip hop palace.
Meanwhile, 311 brought the house down. At first glance, the bill seemed like a weird pairing—the long-running alt rock-funk quintet with a penchant for positive lyrics and one of gangsta rap's finest. It doesn't sound like it should work, but it's one of the best jaunts happening summer. 311 stirred a veritable melting pot of influences and sounds. They didn't say much in between songs, because their music said it all for them. They started their two-hour set with breakthrough single "Down," and immediately the audience became transfixed.
Because each band member is so distinct, 311 harness a classic rock energy on stage. Guitarist Tim Mahoney shreds funkified grooves, equally channeling Jimi Hendrix, Dimebag Darrell and John Frusciante all at once. P-Nut's bass rumbles when it needs too, but it primarily keeps the grooves popping. Meanwhile, drummer Chad Sexton paints the rhythmic backdrop with his kit. Vocalists SA Martinez and Nick Hexum command the stage. They hold down the hooks like seasoned pros, bouncing off each other with a palpable chemistry, while never crisscrossing or colliding. A stew of punk, funk, metal, alt-rock and hip hop, 311 simmers.
311 also know how to please a crowd. The set was comprised of hits spanning their entire career. "Come Original" and "Amber" were rooted in spacey reggae, while "Freeze Time" and "Do You Right" saw the band riffing with metallic prowess. 311 excel when they slow it down, because each element comes through vibrantly. The Cure cover, "Love Song," saw Nick's pristine melody soar to heights of sonic ecstasy. Meanwhile, Tim's guitar echoed with a sensual tone, and the notes slid right off his fret board. Also on this particular song, SA's dual vocals were engaging, complimenting Nick perfectly. "Beyond the Gray Sky" kept things mellow, but the soulful playing didn't diminish the crowd's interest. Older fare like "All Mixed Up" and "Feels So Good" stilled sounded fresh. However, the set's late highlight, "Flowing," allowed the band to let loose on stage, as they didn't stop moving for a second. The guitar volley between Nick and Tim on "Beautiful Disaster" bordered on sublime, and set-closer "Creatures (For Awhile)" perfectly capped off the night.
Snoop said three words at the end of his set that summed up the night, "Peace, love and soul." Everything else could be forgotten for three hours, and we were all able to have a good time with two of music's most reliable acts.