LOS ANGELES — Snoop Dogg ignored the persistent audience chant of "Hit the bong!" for a large portion of his set at the Smoke Out festival on Saturday before he finally made the mistake of asking, "What bong?"
A short time later, the 20-foot glass apparatus that members of Cypress Hill and host Tommy Chong had toked on earlier was carted out. But despite the day's marijuana-centered theme, Snoop left the stage without inhaling. His set capped off a day's worth of performances from a diverse bill that included Taproot, Adema and Everlast, among others, and surprise appearances by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Slash and Linkin Park DJ Joseph Hahn.
Backstage, Snoop said that it was a "personal invite" from B-Real that brought him to the fifth Cypress Hill Smoke Out, held for the first time at the Los Angeles Coliseum. "Me and him go way back," Snoop explained. "He played on my new record, he played the congas on it. We family like that. This is an annual event for him. I'm local. I'm in the 'hood. So it's a good thing, I appreciate [the invitation]."
"Each year you got to try to step it up," B-Real said of putting together the Smoke Out, an all-day event staged to promote the legalization of marijuana and to celebrate the smoking of it — something Snoop has recently sworn off. "I think it's cool that he would still do it," B-Real said, "because it shows that he may not smoke it, but he's still down with the people who recognized him as being one of the frontrunners, as well as Cypress Hill, to pump that whole movement. So for him to be here with us, and Tommy Chong as well, it's great, man."
Earlier in the evening, it was with an emphasis on the celebratory atmosphere of the day that B-Real took the stage with Kush and announced that Smoke Out is "my party." Kush, the long-in-development project featuring B-Real, Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter, Cypress Hill bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and his ex-Fear Factory mate Raymond Herrera, sounded much as one might expect. Namely, it was the staccato low-end punch of Fear Factory and the trippy distorted harmonics of the Deftones topped off by B-Real's nasal-based flow that drove songs like "Psycho Killer" into rap-metal overdrive.
Over on the main stage, Mos Def and Linkin Park DJ Joseph Hahn joined Pharoahe Monch for a short set of ruggedly earthy hip-hop, just before singer Keith Morris' reinvigorated punk vets Circle Jerks took the stage. "We got to play with the Circle Jerks, man!" gushed Kris Kohls, drummer for hard-rockers Adema, who used Smoke Out as an opportunity to debut an adrenaline-pumped new tune called "On Top."
"It's basically about paying your dues on the road," vocalist Mark Chavez said of the song, which is set to be included on their second album. "Tonight we shook those cobwebs off. It's been about two months since we've played. It was good."
Adema's studio-imposed hiatus was nothing compared to Everlast's. Save for an appearance on "Last Call With Carson Daly," Whitey Ford had not performed in well over a year until Smoke Out. He dusted off "What It's Like" and even set down his guitar to rock the mic with "Jump Around," the enduring hit he co-wrote with Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs and recorded with his old group House of Pain over a decade ago.
"They always wanted me to play the Smoke Out," Everlast said of his Soul Assassins partners in Cypress Hill, "but I'm always on the road. This year I was home." Everlast took the stage wearing a Biggie Smalls T-shirt, and dedicated the somber "Put Your Lights On" to another fallen hip-hop hero, Jam Master Jay.
Jay's name was on many artists' lips during Smoke Out. Turntablists, including Joseph Hahn, paid tribute to the slain Run-DMC DJ during the event. Surprise performers Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, whose mentor Eazy-E passed away in 1995, also gave praise to Jay's memory. "[Jam Master Jay], Left Eye, every time something like that happens, we always think about Eazy-E [and] all of the fallen soldiers in the game," Wish Bone said. "It's tragic, but unfortunately, it's part of life."
Bone Thugs' brief appearance was later eclipsed in surprise-factor by Cypress Hill, who wound up a set comprised mostly of well-known classics with a show-stopping rendition of "(Rock) Superstar," embellished by some hot licks from hat-wearing, leather-jacketed guitar hero Slash. "I was gonna come down tonight anyway," Slash explained before he took the stage to huge applause, "and then I talked to Sen Dog and he was like, 'Do you want to come down and play on '(Rock) Superstar,' which is one of my favorite songs." The ex-Guns N' Roses axeman said he jumped at the chance, rehearsing with Cypress two days before, and even turning up at the event in a pot-leaf T-shirt.
Mudvayne's cancellation, reportedly due to vocalist Chüd's bout with bronchitis, did nothing to bump up the show's schedule, as Snoop Dogg arrived via armored vehicle well after 1:00 a.m. With Warren G, a skull-masked homey, security guards and several other hangers-on all dressed in some shade of blue, Snoop hit the stage with "Murder Was the Case," then dipped liberally into his Death Row, No Limit and Doggy Style Records catalog. The estimated 20,000-strong audience rapped along to nearly every word until the bong came out. Then Snoop, wearing a wide smile, left the stage.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.