Better than . . . smoking at home.
"This is our first time rockin' the Troubadour," said B-Real of Cypress Hill, speaking from the fabled club on the twentieth anniversary of the legendary rap group's multi-platinum self-titled debut. "It took us 20 years to get here."
Undeniably one of the most influential groups in the history of hip-hop, the South Gate stoners were the first Latino group to sell a millions copies, with four of their first five records earning platinum status -- and '93's Black Sunday going triple-plat. They've ignited a revolution, becoming cultural icons for their groundbreaking early records and their medical marijuana advocacy. They also host their own SmokeOut, a single-day rap and rock music festival where medical marijuana patients can smoke freely on site. On Saturday night, they celebrated their storied career with an intimate sold out show at the Troubadour.
Originally slated to play Cypress Hill in its entirety, they instead split their discography into blocks, playing a few hits off of most of their studio albums, and ended with a handful of surprise guests.
Block 1: Cypress Hill
After two hours of regrettable sets from DJ openers ranging from boring to downright sad, B-Real and Sen Dog emerged from smoke wearing leather Cypress Hill motorcycle jackets. they opened with "Pigs," the first track off their debut album. Their chemistry was evident; their years of recording and touring the world together still translates into a tight and highly energetic live performance.
Block 2: Black Sunday
Reaching deeper into their treasure chest of canonical classics, they moved into hits "Ain't Going Out Like That," "Insane in the Brain," and "A to the K," off their sophomore album Black Sunday, the record that more explicitly connected them to rock and heavy metal.
Block 3: IV
After "A to the K," B-Real decided it was time for the traditional smoke break, lighting up a massive joint. This led into a weed medley, "I Want to Get High," "Hits From the Bong," and "Stoned is the Way of the Walk." As you know, he's made the proselytizing of pot his personal mission and the center of Cypress Hill's music and philosophy. The volume of weed he's smoked over the last twenty years is enough to make you wonder how he's got any brain cells left, but twenty plus years in, he's still holding it together. His lungs are as durable as his musical catalogue."Dr. Greenthumb" followed, folks hoisted their medical cards in the air.
Block 4: III (Temples of Boom)
Skipping back to Temples of Boom, Cypress Hill played "Throw Your Set in the Air," "Illusions, "Let It Rain," and "Make a Move." In my opinion it's not groundbreaking like their first record, but Temples of Boom is probably their most consistent album from start to finish, with some of Mugg's best production.
Block 5: Rise Up
Finally having fulfilled their contractual obligations with Sony, Cypress Hill signed with West-Coast label Priority Records (under the wing of Creative Chairman Snoop Dogg) to release Rise Up last year, their first new album in six years. They only played two songs from the album, however -- single "It Ain't Nothin'" and "Light It Up."
Finale: "Rise Up," "Rock Superstar"
Sen Dog introduced Sean McCormick of SX-10--Sen's rap metal band--first, and then called out Christian Olde Wolbers from Fear Factory. Former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash came next to perform "Rise Up." Slash was a fairly predictable guest for the evening, as Slash and Cypress Hill have jammed together a few times and collaborated on a cover of "Paradise City" with Fergie. Shavo Odadjian made an appearance on set closer "Rock Superstar."
Video of Cypress Hill's finale with Slash and Shavo below:
We left the Troubadour fatigued, sweaty, and thoroughly thrilled.
Personal Bias: Sitting through two hours of shitty DJ sets before Cypress Hill got going was pretty annoying.
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The Crowd: As a friend said, "These people look like the people who go to 7-Eleven on 7-11 for free slurpees." 98% dudes, almost all wearing black shirts with Cypress Hill or Rock the Bell screen prints. And one guy in a bucket hat and an NPR shirt.
Random Notebook Dump: Cool that they brought with them the same photographer who's been shooting Cypress Hill for twenty years.