SAN BERNARDINO, California — Despite torrential rain, fickle acoustics and delays caused by the grossly tardy rapper DMX, Saturday’s Smoke Out festival still lit up the NOS Events Center, where Ice-T licked female flesh and X delivered a short yet spiritual performance.
“I know it’s wet out there,” Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda said to 21,000 soaked tokers waiting for X, “but bounce with us!” Led by the Jell-O-fingered beats of DJ Joseph Hahn, audience members, many wearing black hoodies and plastic marijuana leis, slammed their bodies to nü-metal anthems “Faint” and “Crawling” before joining the singer on a melodic, bloodthirsty “In the End.”
Linkin Park stirred up the crowd even more by inviting Ice-T of Body Count and surprise 4:20 artist Xzibit — who was greeted with a sea of pumping fists and X-crossed arms — onstage for some rap-metal ecstasy. It was the peak performance of a genre-smashing night that included appearances by Body Count, Obie Trice, Hatebreed, Papa Roach and Pennywise, among others.
Toking onstage next to a 25-foot, golden pot-leaf-bellied Buddha, Cypress Hill also stepped in for DMX. “This is tradition,” said Smoke Out organizer B-Real, taking a puff before launching into the legendary “Hits From the Bong.” “For y’all who don’t smoke,” he said smiling, “just enjoy the smell.”
Earlier in his trailer, B-Real reiterated his sentiments about the festival he started six years ago to celebrate all things herb. Outside, punk-rock girls chanted along with a vodka-chugging Obie Trice, and later cholos cut a rug in the arena to the hypnotic rhythms of DJ Doc Marten.
“It’s all good,” said B-Real. “That’s what this day is all about. Come out, enjoy the show and have some fun. It’s a day for people who want to partake and all, but it’s mainly about exposing people to different kinds of music.”
On the same stage, Ice-T led Body Count in one of Smoke Out’s most talked-about performances, exceeding his set time and setting off a chain of delays with the angry, gnash-your-teeth rap and metal of “KKK Bitch” and later “The End Game” off the band’s upcoming album, Murder for Hire.
“No way, Ice! Keep going, baby!” one fan shouted when the stage crew threatened to shut him down. Instead, Ice broke into “There Goes the Neighborhood,” igniting a chorus of wild fans who chanted every word and went nuts when Ice booty-slapped a leather-clad dancer before peeling off her top. Forget about inhaling. Ice licked her and the audience roared some more.
Shortly after, mini mosh pits formed when hardcore thrashers Hatebreed, taking the night off from their Jägermeister Tour with Slayer, hit the stage. “Everybody’s too high!” Hatebreed singer and “Headbanger’s Ball” host Jamey Jasta yelled at the irie audience members. Taking his cue, guitarist Sean Martin whipped them into shape with the thunderous, machine-gun licks of “Empty Promises.”
Poppier material proved the most crowd-pleasing when Papa Roach tested out new songs like “Done With You” and “Getting Away With Murder,” a funky, rump-shaker that got the electronica peeps up and gyrating. With piercing eyes and a wild grin on his face, frontman Jacoby Shaddix crowd-surfed his way through “She Loves Me Not” and “Last Resort” while fans thrust their fists in the air at his urging.
By the time DMX showed up, the audience had thinned to a dedicated few thousand. Still, they tossed umbrellas aside to dance to thumping bass lines and snippets of the legendary rhyme slinger’s “We Right Here” and “X Gon’ Give It to Ya.” “I’m f—in’ with this audience,” DMX said to his homie, Bazaar Royale, when he’d cut a song short.
The last thing out of the New York MC’s mouth was not a hardcore rap, but a curse-free prayer to God. A final pair of crossed arms shot in the air before the sound of sloshing shoes drowned out X’s cries.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.