Photos by Don Lewis
SNOOP DOGG, THE GAME, BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY, BUSTA RHYMES at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, May 21 With a mounted-police army outside and bald-headed cholos inside, the three remaining Bone brothers of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony revved it up in white Ts with images of group founder Eazy-E, dedicating the R.I.Peace hit Tha Crossroads to the Compton rapper. Busta Rhymes and partner Spliff followed, smoking kush and energizing the crowd with their rapid-fire rap. The Game took the stage flamed out: red Angels cap, red bandanna around his face, red Chuck Taylors dangling from his neck, red Nike batting gloves, and a red bandanna hanging from the right side of his sagging 501s. With a grip of Bloods overflowing the boards, he tore into Westside Story, then wondered, Where are all the gangbangers at? as the Grape Street gang taking up the front row threw up their hand signs and purple bandannas. Handed a bottle and a blunt, The Game sprayed the crowd with the one and self-medicated with the other on the dead-homie tale Start From Scratch. He asked the crowd to light up their cell phones for all those who have passed, turning the Pond into a heavenly body. Top moment: The Game introducing his Blood-red-bedecked 2-year-old son, Harlem, for Like Father, Like Son. Stripping down to his tatted skin, he ended the set with I love yall, West Coast forever, real flames and fireworks blasting behind. Snoop Dogg emerged wearing a blue-bandanna suit and smoking a chronic J. With a live band and DJ Battlecat, Snoop delivered classics like Murder Was the Case, accompanied by a comedic live broadcast of his make-believe station, 187.4 WBALLZ, and flanked by sidekicks Bishop Don Magic Juan and Uncle Junebug, who can really get down. Snoop turned serious in homage to recently deceased O.G. Compton rapper Mixmaster Spade, bringing out his old partner Toddy Tee to perform the 80s classic Batterram, took it back to the 90s with old friends Bad Azz and Lady of Rage, and reunited with Dogg Pound members Daz and Kurupt on What Would U Do? Trying to squash old beefs, he even acknowledged Death Row, rapping with Kurupt, RBX and Lady of Rage on the classic Stranded on Death Row. Finally, he joined with his best friends, the 213 clique of Warren G. and Nate Dogg, for So Fly. This is some spiritual love shit, Snoop declared. Yes, sirrr!
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AUDIOSLAVE on Hollywood Boulevard, May 18 When they teamed up in 2001, Audioslave three dudes from Rage Against the Machine and that singer geezer from Soundgarden promised hesher heaven: RATMs rock-hop dynamics and milk-a-riff mastery topped with Chris Cornells supersexed, godlike moan. The reality of their self-titled 02 debut was horrible: flaccid tempos, endless Jimmy P(l)age-arisms and Cornells tarnished pipes, with Rages sociopolitical commentary bleached to a soundbite beige. Made by ex-heroes devoid of x-factors, the record was but the sum of its parts. It sold millions. Tonight, Hollywood Boulevard is closed outside El Capitan Theater for Audioslaves Jimmy Kimmel Live performance to launch their sophomore album, Out of Exile. Throngs mass behind barriers and line windows and rooftops, but 30 seconds into the new Your Time Has Come, a muted mix has doused any aura of anticipation, choking the songs Zep-again unison riffage and pedestrian melody. Cornell, wiry and perma-tanned beneath white wife-beater, is charisma-free, his crowd interaction consisting of occasional clap-alongs or a Get your fists in the air, while his bandmates earnestly bob about. With the cameras off, the band loosens up, and Cornell, laboring through laryngitis, finds his voice. The elegantly smoldering Like a Stone aside, Audioslaves material resembles early-90s Cult castoffs, so it takes Soundgardens Spoonman lacking the originals slinky shuffle but playing to Cornells strengths to finally ignite the front rows, and RATMs brilliantly constructed rabble-rouser Killing in the Name, albeit with incongruously effeminate vocals, to get micro-riots started and crowd-surfers aloft, forging some facsimile of an event. Draped in (literally) traffic-stopping hype, Audioslaves numbing-by-numbers rock is painfully overdressed, and trotting out their old bands thoroughbred tunes only underlines the creakiness of their current compositions. Fuck this shit.
To see Audioslave pics click here.