Welcome to Earth's most fortified concert: Thanks to that lil' East Coast vs. West Coast hip-hop tiff in the '90s, anytime Snoop Dogg is billed in Brooklyn the police come prepared. And last night (July 16) at Coney Island, as Snoop and 311's Unity Tour (go figure) hit KeySpan Park, the Boys in Blue were out in unparalleled force -- although they were mostly left to protect throngs of stoned high school kids from each other.
Balancing nostalgia with novelty, Snoop took the stage -- after opener Fiction Plane -- and bridged 1993's Doggystyle to Dr. Dre's masterpiece The Chronic 2001 in a greatest hits medley, which got the crowd hoppin' and the blunts burnin'. But despite his age, Snoop is still wacky, and from here the set (even compared to other frenetic rap performances) only got weirder: Snoop's female-praising, five-minute intro to "Sexual Seduction" was a highlight in itself; a group sing-along to Notorious B.I.G.'s "Big Poppa" buried the hatchet; a truly funky (read: slap bass) version of "Lodi Dodi" got fans shouting; and a cover of House of Pain's "Jump Around" got bodies doing just that.
But as the baseball caps, cargo shorts, dry mouths, and Hot Topic Ts hinted, this crowd was only interested in Snoop as opener, and fervently awaited the main attraction -- pseudo-Rasta rap-rockers 311. The set kickstarted with opener "Beautiful Disaster," and soft-touch circle pits -- even frequented by and welcoming of puny junior high girls -- swirled throughout the gig, only breaking so its sweaty components could sway and thrust lighters sky high (yes, lighters, not cell phones) during riffing slow burners like "Amber."
A cover of the Cure's "Lovesong" saw 311 co-frontman Nick Hexum trade raps with Brooklyn's own Matisyahu, before the quintet treated devouts to raucous obscurities like the lyrical assault of "Wake Your Mind Up" and hard-rocking anthem "Feels So Good." But, after hot dogs, beers, and, um, whatever else they consumed, the crowd and 311 mutually called it quits following a short encore; Much like both the band's '90s heyday, the ride was intense, joyous, and short-lived, but the hangover was splendid.
Now Watch This: 311 Live at Coney Island
311's Tim Mahoney (left) and Nick Hexum execute their rasta riffs. / Photo by Shawna Adams
311's SA Martinez sweats out a rhyme. / Photo by Shawna Adams
Hexum winces out the words. / Photo by Shawna Adams
Hexum rallies the Coney Island crowd. / Photo by Shawna Adams
Hexum thrashes before the throngs. / Photo by Shawna Adams
Hexum croons for the KeySpan crowd. / Photo by Shawna Adams
Snoop Dogg, presumably not drinking water. / Photo by Shawna Adams
Kurupt (left) joins Snoop Dogg to hype things up. / Photo by Shawna Adams
Daz grabs the mic. / Photo by Shawna Adams
Snoop toasts the likely already toasted audience. / Photo by Shawna Adams