There has always been a long-standing relationship between rock music and drugs. The same can be said about rap music. And when you think about rap music and drugs, you inevitably think about those doobie loving rappers, Cypress Hill. They love smoking pot. They love singing about pot. So who better to organize a day of music in celebration of that magical herb than Cypress Hill? Well, maybe Snoop Dogg, but don't worry, he's here too. So are The Kottonmouth Kings, Bone Thugs N Harmony, former House Of Pain front man Everlast, and old school So-Cal punk legends, The Circle Jerks. Mix them all up, and you've got The 2002 Smoke Out Festival, held in Los Angeles at the Memorial Coliseum.
The Kottonmouth Kings start things off. These guys didn't really do anything for me but they did put on a pretty high-energy show and if you're into their albums you'll enjoy their live performances here. The perform the following songs:
Day Dreamin Fazes
Following next are The Circle Jerks. While the band has never been able to recapture the manic intensity of their early eighties incarnation, they still manage to tear it up on stage and treat the crowd to a few of their classics. Plenty of energy makes their set fly by way too fast and I wish that there had been more from them on this release. Their six song set was made up of the following golden shower of hits:
Wild In The Streets
In Your Eyes
Bone Thugs N Harmony were third on the bill and did a solid job of bringing their unique blend of R&B and urban hip-hop to the stage. They hit all the right notes and even if their music is a little too smooth for my tastes and I can totally see how people would like their style and you have to appreciate how good they are. The three songs they perform on this DVD are:
Thuggish Ruggish Bone
1st Of Tha Month
Foe The Love Of $
Everlast followed next. The tattooed Irish boy took the stage with his guitar in hand and started off with House Of Pain's biggest hit but gave it an altogether different spin than what you'll be familiar with if you've only heard the album version. The final three songs of his set are solo tracks done with an acoustic guitar accompanying him, and it works well. His raspy voice provides a nice contrast to the folkier sound of his newer material and it all comes together nicely. His four songs were:
Put Your Lights On
What It's Like
Co-headliners Cypress Hill are up next and for me were the highlight of the show. Their (unfortunately) short set brings a skull masked man out on stage with them as well as some trippy visuals courtesy of a massive inflatable Buddha who bounces across the stage as they blast through three rather appropriate songs given the nature of the concert. The group is in fine form here and seems to be having a great time doing their thing for the extremely enthusiastic crowd. Their three song set consisted of:
I Want To Get High
Hits From The Bong
The set I was looking forward to the most on this release was the last one, from Snoop Dogg. Sadly, his set was mediocre. He did a great job of interacting with the crowd and getting them psyched up but really didn't do much more than wander around on stage in kind of a haze. He sounded good, he just didn't seem to have too much energy this time out. The music is still great though, and he hits you with the following eight tracks:
Murder Was The Case
2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted
Ain't No Fun (If The Homies Can't Have None)
Who Am I? (What's My Name?)
Shot on digital video, the concert is presented fullframe 4:3 and for the most part, it looks pretty nice. There is some mild pixelization going on in a few scenes and a couple of moments where the lighting is less than perfect, but that's to be expected given the nature of the film and conditions under which it was shot. Colors look pretty good, blacks are rich and stable and there is a high level of detail present throughout.
You can listen to the concert in Dolby Digital Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, or a DTS mix. Obviously the 5.1 or DTS mixes are preferable but even the basic surround track sounds pretty nice. The multi channel mixes add a nice sense of depth to the proceedings and fill out the room quite nicely giving you the audible illusion that you're there in the middle of it. Bass could have been a little bit heavier considering how much hip hop is contained here but you can easily compensate for that by boosting the levels on your sub a little bit. Overall this is a nice effort on the part of Eagle Rock Entertainment and this disc sounds great.
There are a pair of short behind the scenes featurettes on the disc that give you a chance to take a candid look backstage at the show and catch the bands in a more casual environment. While neither of these are Earth shaking or revolutionary, they're entertaining enough and worth a look through at least once. Pay special attention to some killer footage of Cypress Hill's B-Real and his friend Bobo getting the crowd worked up.
Aside from that, there is a nice fold out poster replica with some photos from the concert on the other side, a decent sized still gallery consisting of photos from the concert, and a few selected promos for other Eagle Rock Entertainment releases.
While I wasn't floored by every band on the line up, there's more good here than bad and the DVD looks and sounds really nice. Whether you smoke or not shouldn't really be an issue, nor should it affect your enjoyment of the music or the visuals. If some (or all) of these bands are your cup of tea than this disc is well worth a look. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.