WEST HOLLYWOOD, California — "When I say D, you say 12," Proof demanded of Thursday's House of Blues crowd.
"D," he chanted.
"Eminem," a pack of kids in the back responded.
This is what D12 face each time the five friends of Marshall Mathers take the stage. No matter how good the show, there are disappointed fans who came thinking Em was part of the package or that this might be one of the nights he makes a surprise appearance. ("This is L.A., he's gotta show," one teenager told his date.)
Fortunately, the group seems used to it by now, as the lyrics to "My Band" spell out. And it not only gives D12 another thing to joke about it, it must motivate them to, as they say, "bring it." Something has to explain that energy.
Thursday's show kicked off with a bang in the form of "Sh-- Can Happen," and that was only with Kon Artis and Kuniva, the less colorful personalities of the group.
Swift and Proof only elevated the levels when they entered one after the other for their verses in "Pistol Pistol" (Em's verses in both songs were skipped over.) "Never say that I'm a gangsta," Proof rapped. "Now that's gangsta," the crowd responded.
Anyone who knows anything about D12 knows the party doesn't officially start until Bizarre is in the house, and that came by the third song Thursday, when the rotund rhyme-slinger entered in a red and black blazer (stretched to the max) and matching shower cap to rap his foul D12 World solo track, "Just Like U."
"If your wife is pregnant I call her a whore/ Leave her no money and go out on tour," he rapped to an audience that was at least one-third female, but one that seemed entirely entertained.
A few more D12 tracks followed before the group pulled out its Marshall Mathers LP posse cut "Under the Influence." With Em absent, Proof led the crowd in a sing-along of the chorus, "So you can suck my d--- if you don't like my sh--."
"We're gonna do some straight G sh--," Bizarre told the crowd, introducing "Pimp Like Me," during which each of the members got on their knees and demonstrated their, ahem, lovemaking skills on the monitors.
Things only got dirtier before Swift changed the mood entirely a few songs later. "There's some bullsh-- in the world right now, so let's hear you," he said, introducing the Devils Night anthem "Fight Music." (It was just after this song when an angry kid sort of resembling Eminem jumped on the stage and Proof instantly cocked his fist before D12's bodyguards, who made Bizarre look slim, yanked him away.)
Moving right along, Proof then addressed an even more serious problem. "Bizarre doesn't drink," he announced. "Come on, let's get him to drink tonight." A roadie then brought out a bottle of beer, which the big man chugged in a matter of seconds as the rest of the group broke into its latest single, "40 Oz."
Bizarre then left the stage, only to return a song later shirtless and sporting a tiny cowboy hat. Adding to the comic effect, he was flanked by a midget in the same get-up. Together, the two dropped to their knees and demonstrated a choreographed sex routine as DJ Salam Wreck spun Prince's "Purple Rain," which he morphed into another "purple" classic of sorts, D12's "Purple Pills."
With the crowd in a frenzy, Swift announced Bizarre was the group's new lead singer and then launched into his "My Band" verse (skipping over Eminem's intro). As the song came to an end, Proof introduced his own "salsa" as he showed off a surprisingly impressive salsa dance with a towel.
For the encore, Kon Artis and Proof zipped through "How Come" before the night's opening acts, Bone Crusher and fellow Detroiters Slum Village and King Gordy, joined D12 for a grand finale of "American Psycho."
"You 'bout to journey into the mind of a psychopath killer/ Blood spiller/ Mentality much iller," the rappers chanted in unison. There were so many voices you could almost forget the one that wasn't there. Almost.
For a feature on Eminem and D12, check out "Eminem: Rolling The Dice On D12."
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.