Fans started rolling in – and up – at 7 pm but it wasn’t until after 10 before Snoop Dogg took the stage at the Aztec Theater. No solid stage time was ever announced, and a couple acts intermittently entertained the crowd eager to see the laid-back lyricist from the LBC, but from the time he stepped on stage, the show was all in the hands of the Doggfather and he called the shots for the rest of the night.
Having had played Austin the night before – one of just a handful of stops on his brief tour of the Southwest – he brought a sold-out show to San Antonio after tickets went on sale only a week before (naturally at 4:20 pm) the day after the date’s official announcement.
Around 8 pm it was lights down, smoke up as the DJ spun club hits, priming the crowd in more ways than one. An hour later, California further infiltrated Texas as its own Stix (aka Watts Stix) took the stage mixing West Coast with the support of the south, blending old with new, and spitting motivation through his high energy performance. His prevailing stage presence and artistic prowess seen locally at SXSW earlier this year not only proves why he’s an obvious choice for Snoop’s Tanqueray Team but the hope that he’s trailblazing a new generation of thought in artistry. One built on the legacy of these rap greats yet scripted by and for today’s world – an artistic revolution breeding and becoming a breath of fresh air in the industry from a venue you could otherwise cut through the air that night.
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Despite the almost three-hour wait for the headliner’s appearance on stage, the party stayed alive and definitely required some marathon maintenance from the concertgoers doing some “blazing” of their own in keeping with the vibe of the show. Just after 10 pm, the lights lowered once again as the drummer improvised over the DJ spinning Ludacris, building up the suspense until they delivered their promise in bringing out the “Big Boss Dogg” himself in a puff of smoke flanked by two sexy dancers. The crowd – lit in the presence of Snoop Dogg himself – forgot all about the extended wait as they erupted with the “P.I.M.P. (remix).” Snoop is his own brand – a legacy built in the 90s and risen into his own empire. He’s stayed true to his artistry – being just enough of a popular culture icon to bring an eclectic crowd yet kept it real in his own roots. Fans hold a certain expectation of Snoop Dogg and he delivers with authenticity but not so far as to the point of parody which is a respectable feat, greatly due to his no holds barred attitude he’s not afraid to put forth even in the most conservative of places.
The stage of the Aztec suddenly transformed into Snoop’s strip club where “the strippers strip and the tippers tip” – this description coming to life with four girls performing pole acrobatics during “Trash Bags” as fake bills were blown from air cannons onto the crowd. He then gave it to the crowd Doggy Style with “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None) and San Antonio returned the love for Snoop’s own Nate Dogg as well, singing along. He then took it to the ‘next level’ celebrating the influence of Dr. Dre with that namesake tune followed up with the party anthem “Ain’t Nothin’ but a G Thang” performing to a sea of cell phones and lighters flowing right back at him. October London, an emerging artist on Snoop Dogg’s label, showcased some soulful sounds coming on stage with his latest single, “Driving Me to Drink” as Snoop sipped on one of his own in the shadows of the stage. London proved to be another name to look out for in the fresh talent backed by Cadillac Music.
Snoop declared that “there ain’t no party like a Snoop Dogg Party” and that was the truth – he maintained a constant coolness bringing every bit of West Coast style one would expect to see at a live show. Besides his South By Southwest keynote appearances, it’s not often that we see him around these parts, but he delivered his signature business with pleasure – and lots of it, lots and lots of it – on stage. The audience undoubtedly welcomed the liberal dose of Dogg. He did not hold back in the eyes of conservativism pronouncing himself Governor that night, declaring legalization by his own hand and vowed to do it up big for the state of Texas. Much of the crowd obliged. He wasn’t just blowing smoke as he delivered a grandiose performance complete with strippers and the Nasty Dogg character living up to the truth of his name, all the while covering all the quintessential Dogg tracks. He took the time to pay homage to the pioneers of West Coast Style – those who left a substantial legacy not only in the rap world but socially as well. He covered Eazy E, Notorious BIG, and Tupac – even throwing in some Cypress Hill – spotlighting that pure realism of a by-gone era, but a powerful cadence that is only set to emerge again with the social climate.
If you step back and cut to the essence of his live performance you can see the authenticity of artistry and it all does not just end up in smoke. The set celebrated past, present, and future – the artistic growth of Snoop Dogg himself and of his role in the industry regarding other artists as well. Music as an art form has always been a platform of social conversation to some extent, but in hearing the Dogg-representation of the artists emerging from the school he helped build, it would be foolish to not say a new hip-hop revolution is in the making – a nouveau poetic protest and urban platform for the masses. However, in the moment of a Snoop show, one can only do unto themselves to feel and live in the moment, leave the thinking aside until later once the air has cleared – to just live young, and wild, and free – to just have fun – as Snoop intends.
Wishing peace, love, & soul to the audience and thanking them for letting him be the true essence of himself, Snoop Dogg left everyone with a gentle reminder in the throws of the holiday season to be sure to smoke *Christmas* trees every day, and with that exclamation of holiday spirit – in true Doggy form – it was safe to say that the entire show was just as lit.