As we scaled the steps of the Pepsi Center to Section 342, Row 8 and took our seats, my only thought was: “I regret my choice of weed.”
Sure, I had a cursory knowledge of Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire, mostly informed by stations that play the hits of the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s AND today. My fear of heights and nervous thoughts of a headline reading “Pot critic falls to death during ‘Saturday in the Park’” far outweighed my obligation to the free tickets at that point.
If only I had listened to Neil Young’s advice and packed a couple peppercorns to ease my anxiety. Cooler vibes prevailed as soon as the house lights dropped, however, and U.K. Cheese proved to be less of an albatross around my neck and more of a glow stick.
U.K. Cheese By the numbers: $19/gram, $300/ounce at MMJ America, 2042 Arapahoe Street in Denver.
Debates raging online over the hybrid U.K. Cheese mostly start and end with, “You do not have the real cut.” Imported stateside in the ’80s from Britain when a group called Exodus released the cut, the original genetics are believed to be Skunk #1, the proud parent of many a fine marijuana. Shaman Genetics painstakingly created new seedstock using silver thiosulfate, which turns female plants into males for pollen harvesting — but even they couldn’t please everyone. They had created the New Coke of funky weed when many preferred the classic Coca-Cola.
The sample I picked up from MMJ America was certainly light on those nearly fetid — not feta — cheese notes that the best genetics still provide. In fact, the nasal ratio was on par with the amount of cheddar you’d get in a seven-layer dip, with more pronounced grape and spicy notes of clove and black pepper dominating the bag. In terms of looks, the strain is much more on point: lushly green with an almost one-note appearance. In that way, it’s almost the English countryside of weed.
Before jumping into our Lyft, my fiancée and I shared a couple hits each off a clean spoon, the kind of frenzied rips you take after realizing your ride is only two minutes away. When our 20-something driver Skyler clearly had no clue who either of the bands were, it dawned on me that we may be partying with people our parents’ age. Would they take a hit off of our vape pen? Would they have us hauled off to a cell I assume exists in the belly of the entertainment complex? The latter has become a fascination of mine, as a friend recently regaled me with a story of being thrown into “Jimmy Buffett jail” for a light altercation involving stepping on someone’s blanket at a show, and that led to shoving. The sativa nature of the strain was running wild in my head with the possibilities.
More cannabis criticism
Flo: For me, Flo is the “Eh, let’s just order pizza” of strains when you’ve seen too many jars and need to walk out with something. If it were a re-run on TV, it’s an episode of “Friends” that’s all Phoebe. Sure, it’s fun and light, but you really wanted a good Chandler zing. Why do I keep buying this?
Tangerine Dream: You eat Pad Thai in the states and everyone laments how it’s not quite the same. Tangerine Dream in Holland doesn’t exactly distinguish itself. It’s a perfectly fine sample, and much, much stickier than the dust most nugs become in Denver. I need a paper shredder, not a grinder. But the sample is average.
Sour Diesel: Recommending Sour Diesel as a weed critic is like a music writer extolling the virtues of The Beatles or a historian making a case for George Washington as a great president. In fact, Sour Diesel probably belongs on a Mount Rushmore of marijuana — a fake monument that I desperately want my picture taken in front of.
By the time we made it to the will-call window, my body had caught up with my head, muscles feeling light and electric as we moved through the crowd. Having no clue where our seats were, the air collectively left us when we saw the number 342. This meant a trek to the nosebleeds.
I’ve never been fond of heights. With some terribly unfortunate stories surrounding drug use and heights, my paranoia is definitely heightened. Because I stand 6-foot-3, the low barriers in front of Section 342 looked woefully inadequate to stop a careening me from landing on top of some unfortunate funk fans. My palms began to sweat uncontrollably. As I nearly white-knuckled my armrests, my fiancée went to grab a water and a Blue Moon, neither of which was particularly effective. Instead, as the first notes of whatever song the two bands collaborated on to open the show echoed through the top of the arena, I immediately calmed.
For the next three hours, I was more-or-less transfixed on the action as members of the bands — both together and with solo sets — dazzled us. When we had no clue what was going on, as the pace was frenzied and the high made it hard to focus at times, we cracked jokes.
The mental buzz was ideal for a show from such veteran performers, drawing me back in with a hook I forgot I knew when my mind wandered. The body high that settled in was too heavy for dancing, although most of our neighbors were playing the wall too, as they say. Contemplative and mood enhancing, I was content to merely watch legends do legendary things. When Philip Bailey, singer for “The Elements,” busted out a four-octave finisher so beautiful he himself began weeping, I knew I had made the right choice by staying. Even if I wasn’t boogieing down.