With Cypress Hill’s self-titled debut album and Naughty by Nature’s breakthrough single, “O.P.P.” both hitting their 25th anniversary, there were more than a few reasons to celebrate Friday’s show. And, even with the annual Haunted Hill bash going down at Terminal 5 for the first time, both groups got away with a whole lot of celebrating. To be blunt (haha), they smoked out the whole venue. But even with all the green, it was a show you couldn’t forget.
Despite their stature in the hip-hop scene, Naughty by Nature are arguably still underestimated, which was clear when they blew their opening set out of the water. Flanked by two massive, inflatable baseball bats, Treach, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee were on fire, burning through a fast-paced setlist as they swayed in sync and soaked up the crowd’s hype. Old favorites straight out of ‘91, like “Guard Your Grill,” and “Yoke the Joker,” sounded right at home with newer tracks like “God Is Us,” and “I Gotta Lotta.” What every song had in common was the deep bass that pounded through the soles of your shoes – and the energy that comes with having such a big crew onstage. At one point, there were as many as 23 people up there with Naughty by Nature, and the attention was well-deserved. “We want respect!” they shouted, but they’d already earned it.
Before anyone could stop to breathe (not that it would have been easy in there), Cypress Hill were setting the scene for a hard and heavy Haunted Hill, storming the stage and stirring up smoke in classic Run-D.M.C. tracksuits. From the very first lines of “Real Estate,” they were nothing but cool and collected, leaning firmly into the sound of DJ Muggs as they delivered. “So I wanna ask you, when the shit goes down, are you gonna be ready?” asked B-Real from behind dark sunglasses, just before he and Sen Dog delivered a ferocious run of “When the Shit Goes Down.” Most of the crowd were stoned out of their heads – but when Cypress Hill told them to jump, they did it with extreme focus.
The verse was tight and rhythmically intense, as emphasized by Eric Bobo’s relentless percussion, and the bright spotlights piercing the thick, dank haze at every angle. T5 had that certain kind of frenetic vibe where it really was impossible not to move your body – especially impressive, given how heavily sedated everyone was. “Who came to get high with Cypress Hill tonight?” B-Real asked between drags from the massive cone joint he’d lit up onstage. Fittingly, the lights were almost constantly green, until they cycled to some cool blues and purples for what’s known as the ‘Weed Medley’ on Cypress Hill setlists; featuring “Roll It Up, Light It Up, Smoke It Up,” “I Wanna Get High,” “Dr. Greenthumb,” and of course, “Hits from the Bong.” The audience let loose with their lighters and whatever they’d snuck in, so no fog machines were necessary.
“You get your bones ready, alright?” said B-Real – and even if you weren’t sure what he meant, you sure as hell straightened up your spine. Even when security suddenly had to throw someone out, the rush of cold air drawing eyes to the open doors, Cypress Hill maintained control and kept the good vibes high. B-Real and Sen Dog just had that kind of power; whether they were goading each side of the room to shout “fuck that side” at each other, or convincing everyone in the venue to kneel down mid-song. “Come on man, this is some spiritual shit,” B-Real proclaimed. “If you don’t do this shit, you’re gonna feel bad later that other people did and you didn’t.” He was just being persuasive, but the message was clear: this is a show people will talk about, so you’d better be part of it. And damn, we’re glad we were.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley