Cypress Hill Smokeout: The Boys on the Hill Bring the Rock, Rap, and Ruckus

Written By: David Carr
Photos By: Ed Hannigan

View all of Ed’s Smokeout Photos Here.

After a bit of a hiatus Cypress Hill brought back their Smokeout Festival to San Bernardino California. The two day event featured a ton of rock and rap acts, and a wide array of discussion/celebration around marijuana. At times the band roster came off more like a casting call for a soap opera or made for TV movie.

Many of the bands on the two day bill seemed to be going through a bit of drama behind the scenes. Day one of the festival saw reunions of Houston’s Geto Boys and Cee-Lo Green’s old Atlanta crew The Goodie Mob. Day two had Pennywise debuting a new lead singer thanks to the departure of long time bandmate Jim Lindberg.

The Deftones had a fill-in bass player while their bassist Chi Cheng lay in a hospital bed in a coma after a tragic car accident. And then there was the Sublime reunion. Original members Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson have reformed Sublime with new frontman Rome Ramirez. The family of deceased lead singer Bradley Nowell has been vocal in their displeasure of the bands use of the name and even went so far as to file an injunction against the band.

On Saturday while dj Muggs and Mix-Master Mike kept the beats pulsating and flowing on the second stage, Pennywise turned in a pedestrian set with fill in vocalist Zoli Teglas on the main stage as the crowd watched and yawned. The party seemed to get started when Sublime 2.0 took the stage with their new lead vocalist. The band played through their most well known tunes and had the crowd singing and moving to their heady mix of ska, punk and reggae. Rome Ramirez is a solid guitar player and seemed to handle the pressure of filling in for Nowell well. He handled the breezy laid back vocals with ease and was able to keep the party going throughout the set. Whether or not this new version of Sublime will yield any new music remains to be seen and the group still has to contend with the Nowell family.

As Method Man and Redman and Bad Brains stormed the second stage, Cypress Hill hit the main stage with a set filled with their greatest hits. After a quick break The Deftones were up next. The Deftones may not have been as commercially successful as their nu-metal brethren but the band remains one of the heaviest and most thought provoking of the nu-metal pack. Lead vocalist Chino Moreno screamed, wailed, shrieked and emoted as his band laid down their Sabbath meets Robert Smith brand of metal. Moreno even showed off his skills as an mc as he rapped “Back to School” off of the bands classic disc “White Pony”

The Deftones raised the bar for headliners Slipknot and the “knot” was able to clear it. With nine band members dressed in masks and matching jumpsuits, kettle drums on hydraulics and a dj violently convulsing back and forth one could have made the assumption that Slipknot would be the band with all of the “issues”. Instead Slipknot proved to represent the best of what the metal genre has to offer. Musically the band is a three way split between Metallica, Faith No More and the Blue Man Group. On stage the band is a demented circus with singer Corey Taylor as the would be ring leader. Taylor shouted, screamed, rapped and sang his lyrics of alienation and lost hope as the band brought their pummeling music to a raucous level. The band gets the award for most interesting sing-a-longs (or in this case shout-a-longs) of the day. Taylor had the crowd chanting such lines as “I am the push that makes you move” and “give me a minute and I’ll change your mind…give me a bullet and I’ll change your life”.

If there is one criticism of the Smokeout it may be the division of labor between stages. Acts like Bad Brains and Method Man and Redman deserve to be on the main stage. If this can happen next year B-Real and company will ensure the party will be alive an smokin’ all day and night.

See Pablo Cortez’s Review of Day 1 here.

See Dave Brook’s Review of Day 2 here.

See Dustin Roe’s Day 1 photos here.

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