Review and photos: Snoop Dogg, Slightly Stoopid blaze it up at the USF Sun Dome
The "blazed" part, I got. This was a thoroughly pro-pot affair, from the legalize-it pamphleteers out front, to the panoply of pro-marijuana iconography and banter onstage, to the multiple joints being passed around the arena. Message received loud and clear, hippies -- you want your legal weed, and you're willing to sign as many clipboards as it takes to make it happen. More power to you.
The "confused" part? That was all me. In particular, I was confused by this: Why was Snoop Dogg, an international megastar who's been part of some of the greatest hip-hop tracks of the past 17 years*, opening for Slightly freaking Stoopid, a group of white-boy reggae-rockers from San Diego with a strong following, but who've never so much as sniffed a hit single?
The answer came to me -- as so often happens with many of life's great questions -- in the pit.
This concert was originally slated for Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, which was all well and good. Plenty of open air into which cannabis smoke could waft. But then, for reasons still unknown, it was moved to the USF Sun Dome, of which I've never been a fan. Saw the White Stripes there in 2003, and it was, frankly, one of the more disappointing concert experiences of my life. Jack White, you owe me $40.
I don't know if poor ticket sales had anything to do with the move. But even though we're in the middle of summer, anytime you move a pot-friendly concert to a major college campus, you're going to sell a bongload more tickets.
That's pretty much the vibe I got in the pit, in the concourse and all around the arena. This wasn't a late-night hip-hop show at Club Skye or Temple Lounge. It was a concert mostly for white, hippieish, pot-smoking, Red Stripe-sipping college kids who never managed to fill the void in their lives left by Bradley Nowell's death**.
In other words: Snoop Dogg fans may not want to hear it, but the big D-O-double-Gizzle was not the main attraction Friday night.That honor went to Slightly Stoopid.
I realized this on the floor of the Sun Dome between sets by rapper Mickey Avalon*** and Stephen Marley. I had my notebook out for maybe four minutes when a dude in a San Diego Padres cap patted me on the shoulder and asked who I wrote for and who I came to see. Turns out he was a huge Slightly Stoopid fan, from San Diego, who had caught them several times before. A couple of fist-bumps later, we were bros. I think.
He seemed typical of the concertgoers on the floor: White, super-cazh, grasping a beer, might have smoked a bowl in his dorm on his way out the door. Don't get me wrong, these people were thrilled to see Stephen Marley and Snoop Dogg too, but if Slightly Stoopid hadn't been on the bill, a lot of them would not have shown up.
This fact led to one of the more ironic twists of my life to date: I had come to the show specifically to see Snoop Dogg, one of the most notorious pot smokers in America ... and yet I was the one who looked like Narcky McNarckerson. (One dude did, in fact, ask me if I was a cop. Rest assured, if I am a cop, it's news to me.)
With the (relatively early) show running a little behind schedule, Stephen Marley came onstage quickly and performed about 10 songs, including the wildly popular Bob classics Three Little Birds, Buffalo Soldier and a high-energy Could You Be Loved. In a neat little twist, he brought out brother Julian Marley to help with a couple of songs, as well as rapper Spragga Benz.
Then it was time for Snoop, who went out of his way to play up the ganja angle, festooning the stage with dozens of (fake?) pot plants, as well as a huge banner that read "Tales from the Crip."****
Snoop sauntered onstage as his band, the Snoopadelics, played The Next Episode, and it was on. Rare is the performer who can take the mic and roll out smash hit after smash hit, but that's Snoop. Gin and Juice. What's My Name. Nothin' But a G Thang. I Wanna Love You. All awesome, but I've seen him a couple of times live now, and both times, Drop It Like It's Hot has been the best one in concert. Just killer.
He, too, had a special guest: The Lady of Rage (remember her?), who came out wearing a Ronde Barber jersey and did a couple of songs, including Afro Puffs. And he even did a cover -- House of Pain's Jump Around, which was fantastic.
One gal in front of me kept holding up bong shaped like a garden gnome. That was fun.
Overall, it was a really solid set, with the vibe electric on the hits, and a little lower on the deep cuts. Snoop did a lot of call-and-response, which went over pretty well. He's about as laid-back as you can imagine, with a flow that's as effortless as anyone's.
Snoop's last words to the people? "Smoke weed, motherf---er!" That's a call to action potheads can get behind.
As for Slightly Stoopid?
Well ... I wasn't a huge fan going in. And I can't say I'm a huge fan coming out. It was like a perfect storm of things I don't care for: Beach rock, hippie jam and white dudes wearing basketball jerseys.
I watched the set from up in the stands, rather than the pit (where a few mosh circles were breaking out), and there were a few good moments. I kinda liked a couple of their more melodic tracks, as well as a rastafied cover of John Denver's Leaving on a Jet Plane.
The encore was pretty nice, too. Their singer grabbed a joint from a fan in the pit and passed it around the band. Then they closed with a rap song involving one of Snoop's backup guys; it sounded like Whole Lotta Love, but was actually pretty fantastic. Gotta give them credit for that.
Even if I didn't leave a fan, I applaud their energy and devotion to their fan base. They're a lifestyle band, I guess. It's just not my lifestyle.
However, I was reminded me of a moment I had with my San Diego bro earlier in the night, down in the pit during Snoop Dogg's set.
"Peace, unity," he yelled, grasping my shoulder. "That's what this is, right here."
Yeah, weed can have that effect on people, I suppose.
I reckon if Snoop Dogg and Slightly Stoopid can coexist peacefully on tour, there's probably hope for the rest of us.
Next up in The 50-50 Club: Torche, Aug. 2, Czar, Ybor City.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*.
* Possibly the most fascinating thing I learned about Snoop Dogg while writing this review: The man has never won a Grammy award. He has 12 nominations, but has returned home empty-handed each time. How is that even remotely possible?
** As an avowed supporter of all things related to late-'90s alt-rock, I'll defend Sublime to a moderate degree. I can get with What I Got and Doin' Time. Lou Dog was good people. But can someone please explain to me how, to this day, Sublime remains, like, the single most popular band within that slim segment of the laid-back, SoCal beach-reggae-ska-dub crowd? Fans moved on from Sublime to 311 pretty quickly, and now it seems they're on to Slightly Stoopid ... but still, it seems like everyone is still trying to be exactly like Sublime. Why is this?
*** I only caught about 30 seconds of Mickey Avalon's set. It was 30 seconds too many.
**** Not a marijuana reference, per se, but still, it's good to see Snoop Dogg appreciates a good pun.
Below, check out some more of Luis Santana's photos of the music and fans at the Blazed and Confused tour Friday night. Then see even more photos in our photo gallery.