This Halloween we found out that Method Man is a monster. His intensity on Friday night at First Avenue for the local leg of the Smoker's Club Tour entirely made up for numerous disappointments -- including the cancellation of lineup standout Big KRIT. As the show's top act, Method Man showed the audience (and the other rappers in the house) why he's been at the forefront of the rap game for decades as he put on a clinic in stage presence, lyrical skill, and crowd control. This came in stark contrast to a blunted opening set by New Orleans' Curren$y, who was injured and sat down most of the performance.
A thick fog of smoke rolled over the First Ave Mainroom as the club's Twitter monitor blew up over the absence of headliner Big KRIT in the posted set times. Audience members loudly wondered why the Mississippi rapper/producer was left out as the show began with up-and-comer Paypa, who proved to be more interested in getting the crowd to chant, "Oh that's my shit!" along with him than he was in actually rapping. With his own cameraman following every move, Paypa had attitude, but little else.
Marcus Manchild, Corner Boy P, and Fiend (aka International Jones) all fared better, but each had beats that swallowed up pieces of their flow, reducing normally sharp skills to dulled mumbles at times. Fiend came away with the "best opener" title as his Southern soul-drenched bangers did their best to win over an unresponsive crowd. Smoke DZA's follow-up set was similarly strong, but the crowd seemed anxious to get to the headliners' sets.
Shortly before Curren$y took the stage, club management posted a comment on Twitter and Facebook confirming that KRIT had indeed cancelled his performance for the evening. Following lackluster opening performances, KRIT's cancellation was another omen of a disappointing night. From the buzz in the building, tons of fans were looking forward to a performance from one of Southern hip hop's most compelling new voices, and it was going to be hard to bounce back from that kind of letdown.
Curren$y changed the stage decoration to look like a bit more like the everydude's living room (complete with couch), and let the crowd know that the doctor told him to take it easy on his broken leg. The Louisiana native played up the "hanging at home" vibe that he does on his albums during his concert, bringing a few girls up on stage to hang out while he rhymed with his buddies. His Ski Beats-produced tracks felt silky and luxurious after the openers' rough cuts, and while there was a slight dip in energy during Curren$y's set, there was a marked uptick in quality and personality.
But it was Method Man's set that made the entire night worth the trip. From the moment that he took the stage, Meth brought the passion and connection that was lacking for most of the night. "The energy that y'all give to me, I'm gonna give it back to you," he promised throughout -- and he delivered. Spitting out heavy-hitting Wu Tang classics with a crushing, forceful delivery, Meth made the most out of his wireless mic by running all over the venue during his set, wandering out into the crowd to connect with fans. He took to the 2nd floor during "Ain't Nothing to Fuck With," getting so amped up that he picked up a table and sent it crashing down the stairs, shocking the crowd out of their smoky daze (and setting Twitter afire).
A number of letdowns made the early part of the evening a rough ride, but Curren$y's charisma paired with Method Man's insane stunts made up for everything. The crowd finally acted like they were invested in more than passing joints during the last leg of the event as Meth gave them more of a show than anyone expected. Marijuana may affect the memory, but there's no way anyone's forgetting this.Personal bias
: Huge KRIT fan, and massively disappointed by his absence. Used to think that Method Man was one of Wu Tang's weaker members, but not any more.The crowd
: Red-eyed and holding. Fitted caps and polos. Precious few ladies.Overhead in the crowd:
(As scantily-clad girl walks by outside dressed in little other than boyshorts) "Yo! I got two tickets to the bun show!"Random notebook dump:
Random dude passes out by the coat check, and Curren$y is tipped off: "Somebody better tell that guy what happens tonight because he's just going home to play XBox now."
For more photos: See our full slideshow by Jon Behm
.Method Man setlist:
Release Yo' Delf
(Interlude from ReadyRock and Streetlife)
You're All I Need
I Get So High
ODB Tribute (Got Your Money/Shimmy Shimmy Ya)
Ain't Nothing To Fuck With
RockwilderInterested in catching Method Man again in Minneapolis? He's coming with all of Wu Tang on January 7.