“That energy you give us,” said Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan to the audience, packed within the seats and lawn of Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. “That energy you give us, we gon’ give that shit right back to you.”
The crowd went crazy, but it definitely wasn’t the first time that weekend.
Wu-Tang Clan closed Rock the Bells, a two-day rap festival that travels to four major cities within the country. The entire weekend was full of performances by huge names from hip-hop, including Kid Cudi, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Talib Kweli, Common and Tech N9ne. The weekend was also full of happy fans, good food and lots and lots of marijuana.
The hologram performances of the late Eazy-E (producer and friend of Bone Thugs) and Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Wu-Tang) were two of the most highly anticipated moments of the weekend. Both performed two songs with their respective groups, all of which had the audience singing along, followed by a touching tribute by the artists.
With so many performers in one venue, special guest appearances were inevitable. DJ Yella (N.W.A) DJed for the Eazy-E hologram, Smoke DZA (Wu-Tang) performed with Big K.R.I.T., Action Bronson and Riff Raff performed “Birds on a Wire,” and Danny Brown joined Ab-Soul (Black Hippy) with a bottle of Hennessy. Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and Syd the Kid (the Internet) were joined by other members of their hip-hop collective Odd Future, with actor Tommy Lister randomly riding onto Earl’s performance on a Monster Energy Drink bike. Many artists were also spotted walking around the venue and watching performances; A$AP Rocky (A$AP Mob) and Kid Cudi reportedly sat with regular audience members to watch Bone Thugs.
The overall atmosphere was incredible. The perfect weather meant that the usual sweaty, overheated attendees were at a minimum. Security guards were pretty lax, too – other than cracking down on minors consuming alcohol, it seemed like everything else was free game. Festival fashion was in full swing: high-waisted shorts and crop tops were aplenty, influenced by sexy hip-hop fashion with rap t-shirts, backwards caps and high top sneakers.
Though Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock were listed on the line-up as their hip-hop collective Black Hippy, each performed on their own. All of the sets were fantastic – with Lamar, the most famous of the four, performing the most songs – but it would have been really nice to hear them all rap together.
Ghostface Killah and Raekwon were missing from Wu-Tang’s performance, erasing all possibility of an epic reunion.
But perhaps the worst disappointment of the festival was the schedule. While many of the set times worked out nicely, many of the performances overlapped each other which meant missing somewhat significant amounts of sets. The worst was certain artists that started at the same time – Common, KRS-One and Deltron 3030 are a few artists that were regretfully missed by the STAR.