Roughly a week after playing to a record-setting crowd at this year's Lollapalooza in Chicago, the California kings of stoner-rap, Cypress Hill, played their first St. Louis show in years. While the bottom floor of the Pageant was relatively packed (the balcony was closed), the crowd was a far cry from the estimated 80,000 fans in attendance at last Sunday's event. The much smaller crowd did, however, bring with them plenty of energy - and plenty of weed.
Columbia, Missouri, native Stevie Stone held the warm-up spot. Stone, who's signed to Ruthless Records, has been gaining an underground following of late largely thanks to "Midwest Explosion," a collaboration with Tech N9ne which he released earlier this year. His gritty, raspy voice (similar to DJ Kaos) and fluid delivery are well-suited for his hardcore style, but his run-of the-mill beats and clichéd subject matter made for a mostly forgettable set last night.
Cypress Hill opened up to an already enthusiastic crowd with "Get 'Em Up," from its latest album Rise Up, which it released on 4/20. The groundbreaking rap act hasn't changed its style much since the '90s: T-shirts, baggy jeans and ballcaps were the order of the day. Its unconventional beat selection and distinctive voices remain unchanged as well. DJ Muggs was absent from the show; filling in on the tables was Julio G (of Westside Radio fame). Percussionist Eric Bobo also joined the trio; his live drums added a little something extra to tracks that didn't originally have them. Once the crowd was amped, the group went back to their earlier hits "Hand on the Pump," "When the Shit Goes Down" and "How I Could Just Kill a Man."
Cypress played another more recent single, "Light it up" before Sen Dog flew solo on "Latin Lingo" and "Armada Latina." B-real then returned to perform "Insane in the Brain" before lighting up (what appeared to be) a huge joint onstage. The crowd followed suit, as Cypress ran through a number of their stoner anthems: "I Wanna Get High, Stoned is the Way of the Walk," and "Dr. Greenthumb." During "Hits from the Bong," someone brought out an Excalibur six-footer from backstage.
Both emcees then took short a break while Julio G and Eric Bobo went back and forth on his respective instruments. Julio G showed that he's no slouch on the turntables, and the Latin drum solo had everyone up and moving. When the vocalists returned, they did a two-song mash-up mixing their material with Snoop Doggs, although I had a hard time recognizing any of the beats or lyrics.
After performing "Throw your Set in the Air" and "Illusions," Cypress exited the stage briefly, and then re-emerged to "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That" before closing with the hit "Rock Superstar." Overall, it was an entertaining show and fans got exactly what they came for. But just how many of them will remember it?