West Coast All-Star Tour feat. Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube, Comerica Theatre, 9/14/2012

West Coast All-Stars feat. Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube @ Comerica Theatre | Friday, September 14, 2012
"Can I take y'all back to 1994?"

It's a question that Ice Cube popped in the midst of his performance during last night's West Coast All-Stars Tour stop at Comerica Theatre. The near-sellout crowd -- which had been plenty rowdy all evening -- lost their shit after Cube's query and got even more cray cray during Snoop Dogg headlining set.

It also aptly summed up what the concert was all about: Taking it back to the old-school.

The mid-90s were the heyday of not only Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg, but also for fellow West Coast rap legend (and the tour's opener) Too Short. All three were in their prime and at their fiercest, dishing out anthems for the ghetto-fab crowd and ruling MTV. They were the scourge of white middle suburbanite parents everywhere (not to mention politicians), who got plenty of panic attacks over their teenagers blasting that "Snoop Diggy Dog" from the bedroom.

In the intervening years since the pinnacle of the gangsta rap era, the erstwhile Calvin Broadus and O'Shea Jackson have softened their image considerably though appearances in family-friendly movies and whatnot, particularly Cube via his neutered performance in Are We There Yet?.

Too Short, on the other hand, never went the same route as his tourmates and maintained his ferociousness and over the decades. While the ginormous line of people waiting to get into Comerica after a lengthy pat-down by security (guess they learned from the Clubhouse Music Venue's mistake) kept me from catching all but the last few minutes of the Oakland rapper's set, what I witnessed was pretty pimp.

He was nowhere near as fired up as Ice Cube, however. The "Don Mega" wound the clocks back to the days where he had a permanent scowl affixed to his mug, putting on a fierce performance featuring dope shit from N.W.A. and Westside Connection.

He rolled through songs like "Gangsta Nation" and "Straight Outta Compton" while backed up by his old Westside Connection partner Dub-C, who filled in for Dre on the N.W.A. songs and acted as Cube's hype man. The WC's resident DJ Crazy Toones was also on the turntables for the set, (Sadly, it looked like Mac 10 couldn't make it.)

The bass was jacked up to 11, as per the rappers' wishes, causing everyone's teeth to rattle as Cube dropped bombs on the mic.

"We want it loud, we want everybody to get their money's worth no doubt," he said.

Cube also gave props to the late west coast legend Nate Dogg by doing the chorus from "Smoke Weed Everyday" acapella style and even brought the show to a halt after "Gangsta Nation" to request that Dub-C bust out with his infamous Crip walk.

"We had a problem in here, a slight problem," Cube stated. "Everybody know when we do 'Gangsta Nation,' Dub-C is supposed to Crip walk."

The rowdy hip-hop party atmosphere in the crowd turned to boos, however, when Cube started shit disturbing and pulled Phoenix's punk card by bringing up the fact that former Suns legend Steve Nash is now playing for the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers (a.k.a. Cube's favorite team).

"I'd like to thank you for Steve Nash. Thank you, thank you very kindly. We really appreciate it," Cube stated, earning mad hate from the audience. "We make sure he get a championship, y'all. It ain't nothing but love, y'all. I had to fuck with y'all a little bit. Y'all fucked with when y'all got Shaq, so goddamn it, I gotta give y'all a little bit back."

Eff you, Cube.

He won the crowd back in an instant, however, especially after bringing out his rapper offspring OMG (a.k.a. Oh My Goodness, who debuted his first mixtape first mixtape, Jackin For Beats earlier this year ) for two songs to wrap up the set, "She Couldn't Make It On Her Own" and "I Rep That West."

After stage hands unfurled a huge banner of Snoop Dogg's face adorned in Rastafarian colors and images of pot leaves, the 40-year-old hip-hop icon hit the stage while a remix of Carl Orff Carmina Burana heralded his arrival in grand fashion.

For those hoping to get a glimpse of his new reggae persona Snoop Lion and witness Mr. Broadus become the self-proclaimed reincarnation of Bob Marley were in for a let down, however. The Comerica crowd got around 60 minutes of classic Snoop as there was nary a glimpse of his recent Rastafarian reboot.

If anyone was disappointed, they certainly weren't acting that way, as Snoop's on-point performance left few (if any) people not standing, singing along, or putting their hands in the ay-er (and waving them round like they just didn't cay-er).

Like Cube, the Doggfather had some questions of his own, including inquiring how good the weed was in Arizona (natch) and asking "How many of y'all are gangstas out there?"

Based on the screams from the crowd and all the hands that were raised in response, local law enforcement patrolling the event should've be very concerned, as almost everyone in the audience indicated they were gangsta, be it pale-faced gingers or 40something mothers.

Dogg flew through more than a dozen of his biggest hits, all while wielding his blinged-out microphone. In addition to such Snoop standards as "Gin and Juice," "The Next Episode," and "Who Am I?"

Snoop's long list of collaborations and guest appearances on other hip-hop artist's tracks made up a good chunk of his set (see below), whether it was Katy Perry's "California Gurls," Akon's "I Want to Fuck You," or "Young, Wild and Free," his duo with Wiz Khalifa. And, in what's become the norm for Snoop's gigs, he performed covers of 50 Cent's "P.I.M.P." and House of Pain's "Jump Around."

"Why is he doing so many covers?" wondered one concertgoer next to me.

Because he's Snoop Dogg and can do whatever the fuck he wants, including bringing a huge entourage onstage (in addition to his backing band that included a guitarist, bassist, keyboard player, and DJ). He had three different hype men in his posse, two bootylicious dancers, a dude who's job was throwing out rolling papers to the audience, and a mascot toting a giant blunt and wearing a dog costume.

Like Snoop himself sung during his performance of Coolio's "Sumpin' New," there ain't no party like a west coast party.

Ice Cube Set List (Partial) 1. "Straight Outta Compton" 2. "Gangsta Gangsta" 3. "Check Yo Self" 4. "Smoke Weed Everyday" 5. "Gangsta Nation" 6. "Bow Down" 7. "We Be Clubbin" 8. "You Know How We Do It" 9. "Party Over Here" 10. "Bop Gun" 11. "You Can Do It" 12. "It Was a Good Day" 13. "She Couldn't Make It On Her Own" 14. "I Rep That West"

Snoop Dogg Set List 1. "I Wanna Rock" 2. "P.I.M.P." 3. "The Next Episode" 4. "Nuthin' But a G Thang" 5. "Wrong Idea" 6. "Sumpin' New" 7. "All I Do Is Win" 8. "Down 4 My N*ggas" 9. "Gin and Juice" 10. "California Gurls" 11. "I Wanna Fuck You" 12. "And U Do Know That" 13. "Sensual Seduction" 14. "Beautiful" 15. "Take U Home" 16. "Jump Around" 17. "Drop It Like Its Hot" 18. "Who Am I? (What's My Name?)" 19. "Young Wild and Free"

Critic's Notebook Last Night: West Coast All-Stars feat. Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube at Comerica Theatre Personal Bias: Every single cover of "Gin and Juice" that's been recorded, including The Gourds' brilliant redneck version, can't hold a candle to the original The Crowd: Mostly Latinos and African-Americans with a smattering of white folks like myself. Overheard: "I hate going to the clubs because it feels like everyone's eyes are on me." Random Notebook Dump: Okay Mr. Security Guard, There are a slew people openly smoking grass or shamelessly recording the show with their iPads and you've gotta give me shit for standing halfway in the aisle?

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.