A healthy-sized crowd (600 at the door, according to the promoter) showed up to the Coliseum Saturday night to see the Wu-Tang Clan's most charismatic member in action. The inimitable Mr. M-E-F performed in his trademark microphone-dominating style, climbing repeatedly off the small stage and into the crowd and interacting enthusiastically with audience members throughout the night. One such interaction hit extra close to home when I caught an accidental shoe to the head, immediately after Meth testily (and wordlessly) insisted that my good friend Adam "the Devastator" Greer hold his hand for a little while.
See also: - Slideshow: Method Man in St. Louis 1/5/2013 - Raekwon Showed up at the Gargoyle at 10:55, Ten Minutes After Wash. U. Faculty Pulled the Plug on His Show - Curren$y, Method Man And Big K.R.I.T At The Pageant, 10/25/11
Method Man took the stage close to 1 a.m., following several opening acts and an extended DJ set/breakdance-a-thon that left many audience members in attendance a bit restless. Experience has taught me that Wu-Tang shows tend to start late, so my patience was therefore still intact when a familiar voice came through on the microphone, demanding that everyone "get the fuck up." "Release Yo' Delf" would be the set's opener, and Meth charged onto the stage like a bull in a china shop.
"There are only two things you need for a Method Man show," he explained between songs. "The first is weed, motherfucker. The second is energy!" It is a speech I have heard before, during his set at 2011's Smoker's Club stop at the Pageant, and it was the first of several challenges Method Man would issue the crowd throughout the night to attempt the improbable and match his level. Meth was sweaty before the first song was over, and cast aside his jacket and vest almost immediately: "This ain't about style," he said. "This is Wu-Tang. This is hip-hop." Despite the hot lights, his set was unrelenting and he seemingly never tired.
"Hey, this white boy right here just said 'nigga.' Quick, everyone, get him!" Meth joked, referring to a fan who was singing along in the first row. "No, I'm just playing," he continued, before anyone could act. "Not for nothing though, we do get four more years."
"I like Obama," he explained between puffs on a blunt. "He just needs to legalize this weed."
Marijuana smoke filled the air throughout the night as smokers surreptitiously got their mid-show fixes. "I don't know what this place's policy on smoking is," Method Man said at one point, "but that shit don't apply tonight." Tell that to the poor sap standing next to me who was escorted out. Pro tip: When smoking weed in a place that does not allow such behavior, maybe you shouldn't just stand there with your joint still lit in your hand as security approaches. Ditch that shit, you fool.
Method Man's set consisted of songs new and old, Wu-Tang classics, and of course the ever-present mid-show tribute to Ol' Dirty Bastard. "We're not gonna hold up lighters or cellphones or any of that shit. We're not even gonna have a moment of silence. That's not what this is about. This isn't about mourning Ol' Dirty Bastard's death; this is about celebrating his life," Meth explained. And the crowd went wild, singing along to every word of "Shimmy Shimmy Ya."
Relentless in his approach, Meth blasted through songs with few breaks. "Turn that shit off; I don't really even like that song," Meth told his DJ at one point. "Plus they're not even feeling it, so we're gonna just move on." Method Man will firmly insist that you sing along and wave your hands in the air. It is not a request, and it is not optional; it is resolute insistence.
At the end of the set, my aforementioned friend Adam got to feel the full weight of this insistence rather personally. As the second-to-last song of the set was winding down, Meth began pointing offstage, directly at him. This particular instance of insistence was wordless, since there was still a song playing. Adam, who was throwing up a "W" at the time, realized that he was being called upon and began looking around from side to side. "Me?" he mouthed, pointing at himself.
Method Man had a fire in his eyes as he continued gesturing wildly. "You!" his motions said. "Here!" they continued, as he pointed to a space five steps ahead. Dutifully, Adam stepped forward, unsure as to what he was being called upon to do.
Meth then began climbing up onto the crowd, placing his feet in the hands of audience members as he started in on the night's last song. Adam then understood what was happening, and reached his hand out to grab a foot. "Normally I wouldn't go for that," Adam would explain to me later, "but it was Method Man."
To Adam's surprise, Meth instead grabbed Adam's hand and used it to steady himself as he stood on the hands of his fans and finished his song. For Meth, it was a smart move: Adam is sturdy with a good back, and he was perfectly capable of helping to keep him from falling. For Adam, it was surreal: For at least a full minute, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan held his hand while singing a song to him.
I reached into my pocket to grab my phone and capture a picture of this, and right then Meth hopped back down from his perch and I got wanged in the side of the head by his shoe. It was my own fault, really, for existing inside of my phone at that moment rather than within the show itself. I had already witnessed a rambunctious Method Man throwing a full bottle of water on a crowd full of people pointing cell phones at him earlier in the night, with a mischievous smile on his face. I should have known better. The accidental kick to the head was not the worst I've experienced at a show, though, and was easily shaken off.
"Did Method Man just yell at me to hold his hand?" a bewildered Adam asked me as we exited the venue. Yes and no: Adam did hold his hand, and Method Man did make him do it, but the Wu-Tang MC didn't even have to speak a word, let alone yell. Such is the power of the Wu.
Overheard: An opener covering a twenty-year-old Snoop Dogg song, incorporating an electric guitar. C'mon, guys.
I was having far too much fun to even attempt a setlist. I knew every song and had the whole list memorized, but that blow to the head shook all that info loose and I forgot. That's believable, right?