Method Man and Redman First Avenue, October 27 By Max Ross
Method Man, judging from the impact he makes when he jumps into the crowd, is probably about 240 pounds. I’d put Redman at 220, but his effect is more pronounced, because he dives into the audience from atop one of First Avenue’s twelve-foot-high speakers. The concert’s rules were established way earlier in the set – “You give us your energy,” Method Man said a couple times, “and we’ll give it back” – and apparently this, the stage diving, is the fulfillment of his proclamation; by the end of the show, Method Man and Redman have apparently absorbed all our momentum, (at the very least they’ve smoked some of our weed), and now they re-disperse it by dispersing themselves amongst the crowd.
When they’re able to remain on stage, Meth and Red follow each other around in a manner reminiscent of Dr. Gonzo and Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. That is, they seem completely in sync with each other, even if narcotically disconnected from the rest of the world. But while the FLLV duo partakes of any drug that comes their way, the rappers limit themselves, one is led to believe, to marijuana. Though “limit” in that sentence is a disingenuous word. They unabashedly light the blunts that certain generous fans throw their way, and then unabashedly ask for more.
In fact, smoking up (or “smoking out,” depending on your region) seems to be the single unifying point of their current tour. It’s the thread that connects the opening acts to the headliners to the fans, more so even than rap. Termanology, the first to go on, a stocky, powerful MC based in New York, smokes from a Philly while his hype men ask the crowd to throw their lighters in the air. Evidence (of Dilated Peoples) and Alchemist dress up as the rappers from Cypress Hill and cover “Hits From the Bong,” while waving a bong around on stage.
Unsurprisingly, this is called the Still High Tour. Even more unsurprisingly, everyone in the crowd is privy to this non-secret, and in addition to the requisite enthusiasm many came supplied with dope. Given the circumstances, they are a remarkably attentive, emotional bunch. And maybe, as such, they’re a little manipulated. A lot of the show is used up explicitly pandering for energy. Minutes of asking “Are you ready for this song?!” prelude actual songs; too much time is spent beseeching us to throw our already outstretched arms in the air. It’s a little disappointing when the harmless hyping turns into shameless advertising (“Buy our CDs and T-shirts in the back, yo” and “Make sure, when How High 2 comes out next year, you come out and support us” are just a couple of the night’s commercial choruses).
Nevertheless, Method Man and Redman’s allure is inescapable. I’m not sure if it’s the quality of their songs, or something that goes beyond their music entirely, but these guys can move a crowd. The concert is pretty much a best-of showcase of their respective careers, as they play through “How High,” “Da Rockwilder,” “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man” (technically a Wu Tang song, but whatever), and a few other goodies including ODB’s “Dirty,” Raekwon’s “Ice Cream,” and Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” You can marvel at their stage presence (commanding), their lyricism (intricate), their playfulness (all through the set they climb on speakers and use the whole venue as their stage). But when you get down to it, it’s really just impressive that they’re able to create a climate so close-knit that the crowd members will throw their dope stashes on stage.