by Kenny Oravetz
This Halloween, the streets of Isla Vista were deserted. The smell of sea air and horse poop drifted down an abandoned Del Playa as police hung around watching videos on their cell phones. A few ignorant out-of-towners cruised around on their swagways, searching for parties that did not exist. The Isla Vista residents that were out and about seemed to have a specific destination in mind, one not in IV, but on campus. Where were they heading?
To see the one true king of rap, of partying, of the pound, Snoop Dogg.
When AS Program Board announced that Snoop Dogg was playing the second day of Delirium, their second annual Halloween concert event, people went insane. The first day tickets went on sale, the line stretched around buildings, down to the lagoon, up to Mars, and back. One friend of mine waited six hours to get a ticket, skipping all of his classes that day. When tickets finally went online at the end of that day, many were stuck at infinitely looping waiting room screens, while others figured out workarounds and were able to get themselves, and their friends, an excess of tickets. Within a day, the show was practically sold out.
The following week was a tumult of scalping, hype, and disappointment. Tickets that were originally five dollars were sold for sixty. Free and for sale was flooded with requests, sales, and social justice warriors turning their attention to free market economics instead of the world’s more pressing issues. All throughout campus, a buzz was building for the return of the king.
On Halloween, he returned, his first UCSB appearance in five years. My friends and I got in line at eight for a show whose doors opened at eight thirty. We were in a good spot, able to get towards the front of what would be a sold out, packed audience. As a flood of costume-clad drunken freshmen came in, the opener came on.
I’ve seen hundreds of live bands by this point. From August through October, I average one concert or festival per week. I probably see a hundred bands in that span alone, everything from rockstars to DJs to jazz virtuosos to twee indie heartbreakers to heavy metal bone-breakers. All I’m saying is, I know what I’m talking about. I have a wide field of expertise.
Snoop Dogg’s opener, Watch the Duck, was the worst live electronic act I have ever seen.
Watch the Duck doesn’t do concerts. They do parties. They said so at least five times. I’m assuming that’s because their music isn’t good enough to hold the audience’s attention, or even make the audience happy, so they can’t qualify themselves as a concert artist. I feel like the only way I could have enjoyed Watch the Duck is if I was so drunk that I couldn’t remember their set, which kind of renders the whole thing pointless. The “band” was composed of a dunderheaded DJ who couldn’t make a seamless transition even if he had a tailor on hand, a rapper/MC whose ability to spit fire was comparable to a dragon with chronic bronchitis, and a bassist wearing a huge duck head who I guess was only there for something to watch, because seriously, that duck costume was pretty much the only appealing thing in that set, and that isn’t saying much, since its piercing eyes reminded me of something I had seen in a strange nightmare. Seriously, the most memorable part of these guys’ set was when they did a dubstep cover of “Wonderwall” by Oasis, which is about when I wished I had industrial strength earplugs and was on a flight to anywhere far from the venue. The promise of Snoop was all that made me remain.
And it was worth it, for even though Watch the Duck was an experience comparable to the secret Guantanamo torture experiments where they played the Barney theme song on a 24 hour loop to torment jihadists, Snoop Dogg was pretty much the best concert/party I had ever been to at UCSB. He and his crew came out wearing dog masks, to the distinctive opening notes of “The Next Episode,” and the crowd flipped out. People jumped. People screamed. People yelled “Snooooop”. Blunts and joints popped up like weeds, and were promptly lit, filling the air with hot smoke. Every breath was an intake of the sticky-icky and every word was a sing-a-long. The crowd pushed in to uncomfortable levels, then pulsed out in an explosion of dance.
Snoop owned the stage and the audience’s attention, calling out “UCSB” just as often as he called for the crowd to light up. In addition to his crowd-pleasing hits like “Gin and Juice” and “Pop It Like It’s Hot,” Snoop played an eclectic mix of party-pumping covers, ranging from heartfelt tributes for Tupac and Biggie to a rousing rendition of “I Love Rock n’ Roll” that proved that yes, UCSB does love rock n’ roll. Or more accurately, UCSB loves anything that comes out of Snoop’s mouth.
That love was totally justified. Snoop’s raps were on point, his flow was practiced, his backing crew was hyped, and his dancers were sexy without being a dominant presence. His age rarely showed, though many of the songs he performed were written before most of the audience was born. That fact merely served as a testament to his musical prowess, his kingly legacy, the fact that years from now, kids will still be lighting up to chants of “Smoke Weed Everyday.” Snoop left the crowd in ecstasy, not just because of the drugs they were on, but because of the sheer party power of his performance. “UCSB!” he declared from stage as he finished his set, “I will be back!”
I believed it. As the crowd staggered out toward Pardall in search of munchies after a hell of a good time, I thought that the only person who might have had more fun than we had was the king himself, that undying stoner hero of rap, the D-O-double-G.