Written By: Dave Brooks
Photos By: Ed Hannigan
View all of Ed’s Smokeout photos here.
I show up to the Cypress Hill Smokeout in my green “Naturally Gifted” t-shirt with a plant on it that at first glance looks like a pot leaf (it isn’t), my camo shorts and my usual longish hair with full beard. Not your typical photographer look. I bring along my trusty Samsung S630 to take my “pro” shots with and forget to bring the memory card. That means I get to take 9 whole pictures!
Jim, editor-in-chief of CWG, and I enter the parking lot and ask some San Manuel Amphitheater employees where to find the V.I.P. parking section. We are given a variety of answers that don’t seem to point towards anywhere, so we decide to park in the first available spot and buck authority. This is Rock ‘n Roll damn it! A flash of our passes and we are in. We navigate through the maze of barricades and personnel with sheer ignorance and walk right onto the main stage. There’s only a sound check going on at the time, don’t get too excited, but we do just happen to walk onstage through on to backstage. According to our brightly colored, segregated wristbands, this is a ‘no no.’
We’re now backstage illegally and face a dilemma, how are we going to see the show when we can’t risk running into the Gestapo-ish San Manuel Security? More importantly, how are we going to eat, when there’s a limited ration of food tickets and you can’t buy anything backstage with money? We try to bullshit the volunteer staff, no luck. I try bribing and begging the food guys, no dice. I turn around and find my temporary savior. The Ice Cream Man. This guy is giving out FREE motherfuckin ice cream. “Two ice cream sandwiches please” I ask King, leader of the Ice Cream Men. “No problem” says King. “Come back anytime” he adds. Fuckin A I will.
Word is spreading around backstage that Pennywise are about to go on. What to do? We again try to act like we belong, but this time there is a wily veteran of a backstage security woman in our way. She notices our inadequate wristbands and it’s on. “What are you doing back here? You’re not allowed back here! How’d you get back here?” All “back here” excuses fail. She ain’t having it. I am escorted off as Jim smartly evades her and stays backstage. He eventually joins me as I figure out that I get to stand directly in front of the stage for the first 3 songs of each band. (With my photo pass and all)
I get to the front of the stage as Pennywise goes on and notice that I am a little out place. I’m surrounded by 15-20 photographers, over $100,000 worth of camera equipment and look nothing like a person that should have a photo pass. Who cares though! No one is kicking me out! For a novice Pennywise fan, I think they played pretty damn well. I overheard hardcore Pennywise fan’s say that new singer Zoli Teglas isn’t really up to par, but the guy just started filling in for Jim Lindberg 2 nights ago. Give him a break I say! I had a good time Zoli. Thank you for having the balls to face the hardcore fans.
Jim gets a call and finds out that we have the opportunity to interview Immortal Technique. As one of the most controversial and outspoken MC’s out there, ‘Tech would be a great interview. I scheme my way back into what I find out later is the wrong backstage to try to find ‘Tech. Might as well get some more free ice cream! I spend my time wandering around looking for anyone that might look even close to a rapper. No luck. As I leave the backstage area, Sublime, or the new incarnation of Sublime with Rome Ramirez fronting the group, has taken the stage. While I do agree with Bradley Nowell’s wife regarding the use of the band name, I have to say that I enjoyed their set immensely. This kid sounded like Bradley, played guitar pretty damn close to Bradley (messed up the intro to “Santeria”) and has even stated that he plans on writing new songs for the band like Bradley. What balls! The crowd loved him and enjoyed every second of their set. All of the classics were played. A successful reunion if I ever saw one.
We leave their set a little early to go see and meet Immortal Technique, who we now know is backstage of the 2nd stage where he is performing. We feel a little stupid to say the least, but it doesn’t end there! We don’t immediately recognize him as we approach his trailer! We shake his hand and say that we are here to do an interview with “Immortal Technique.” He says “That’s me. Immortal Technique isn’t a group, it’s only one nigga.” I knew this, but….well, forget it, I feel like an idiot. He proceeds to tear up the 2nd stage. Dropping hits like “Bin Laden” and “Harlem Street.” Leading the crowd through a sing along of “Homicide harlem, BLAM! What’s the problem?” With the time splits between each stage you end up missing either the beginning or end of a set. We race back to see Cypress Hill only to catch the last 2 songs of their set . Chino Moreno of the Deftones guest starred on “Rock Superstar,” making this hit track even more hype with his unique brand of vocals.
Skipping the Kottonmouth Kings, we stay around for the Deftones. I have personally seen them roughly 15 times now and count them as one my most influential bands. They open their set with a brand new track titled “Rocket Skates” off of the yet to be released ‘Eros.’ If this is any indication of what’s to come, I am extremely excited. It’s a combination of their early and recent stuff all balled into one. Chino had a ton of energy that night with Jim attributing it to his weight loss. Makes sense to me. He was running around the stage, physically emphasizing the high points in the songs being played. I’m completely truthful yet definitely biased when I say that their set killed. At least the beginning did, as we missed the last 20 minutes running over to the Method Man and Redman show at the 2nd stage.
As I enter and get closer to the back of the stage, I see Redman walking to the stage. “What’s up Redman!” And do that half handshake/half pat on the back thing. He says, “What’s up.” Meth and Red jumped on stage, and brought the house down for a full hour with their individual hits, delivering the final blow with classic Wu-Tang (“M-E-T-H-O-D Man” being the topper). My current rating for the Cypress Hill Smokeout, out of 10, at this point would probably be a 9.935. Oh yea, one last band to go………….SLIPKNOT. Did I mention that I get to sit in the very, very front for the first three songs?
Damn. It’s just clockwork for these dudes now. Always killer shows. I know it helps when you have that many guys on stage, but you still have to give credit where it’s due. Slipknot are touring on their latest album “All Hope is Gone” and decided to pay a visit to the Smokeout. Corey Taylor, Jim Root, Mick Thomson and the gang all have killer new masks. This just adds to a dynamic, precision based attack of a show that seems to never let up. I think that they played 3 tracks off of their debut right at the get go, just so they piss themselves off enough to make it through such an energetic performance. And 4 encores too. As we were leaving we heard some type of music playing and thought it might have been a 5th encore. We’re still not entirely clear about that.
Walking back to the car was interesting, as we passed the car initially and then remembered that it was definitely on more of a sloping hill like the one behind us. Finding the car was a relief. So much walking and bullshitting had taken its toll. The conversation shifts to what fast food restaurant the GPS tells us is closest and……the car won’t start. Are you serious… Some nice guy in a truck comes down to jump the car and it doesn’t work. Everything is in place, it just won’t work. We thank the guy for trying as he leaves and go back to the car. I replace the positive terminal cap and what seems to be 15 seconds later, I notice that the car’s interior lights are on. The what? Yea! They’re on. Start the car! Start the car! Jim turns the keys and……..
It starts right up. Un fucking believable. See ya next year, Smokeout!
See Pablo Cortez’s Review of Day 1 here.
See David Carr’s Review of Day 2 here.
See Dustin Roe’s Day 1 photos here.