Method Man & Redman perform at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver on 4/20 in 2014. (Dylan Langille,

What 4/20 means to me: Enough with the cliché stoner acts, says rock critic

At this point we should all have Snoop Dogg, Method Man and Redman’s personal cell phone numbers on speed dial and ready to request a private show at any moment. If it means playing in Colorado, these guys will probably perform at graduations, house parties, bar mitzvahs, quinceaneras, supermarket openings, etc.

Within the last year or so Snoop, Meth and Red have gotten involved in New Year’s Eve, Halloween, even gubernatorial elections. But the worst, the absolute worst, is 4/20, where you’ll get all of these guys and many other repeat offenders playing in the state year after year.

Colorado is to cliché stoner acts as Las Vegas is to Celine Dion, Boyz II Men and Britney Spears. We’re just helping them limp along well after they’ve had any relevancy.

So, why do promoters keep booking them here on 4/20? Is it because they’re a guaranteed sell out? That might be the case, but I don’t think that’s a great argument for lazy booking.

You put any well-known act in a cool venue on 4/20 and it will probably sell out. People aren’t specifically looking for stoner acts to see on that day, they’re looking for any music to see and party to on 4/20. It should be no secret that you can smoke weed to any music. Seriously, try it.

Promoters need to get creative and book some out-of-the-box acts for 4/20-themed shows. By booking these repeat offenders every year, promoters are building a lethargic and predictable live music identity in the state. The national eye is on Colorado every 4/20, and people are seeing a caricature of live music and stoner culture.

Wouldn’t we like to defy the stoner stereotype?

We can even get kind of close to that stoner ethos without booking cliché stoner acts. Flying Lotus smokes a ton of weed, makes great music and doesn’t flaunt his weed smoking obnoxiously all over his tracks. Sturgill Simpson is totally cool with weed, and only occasionally sings about his substance use. TV On The Radio — those dudes love weed and are admittedly influenced by it. Hell, I’d even take a Miley Cyrus concert at this point.

Can we stop booking the same cliché stoner acts every 4/20? Let's get creative and bring some interesting and relevant acts into Colorado. Or would we rather pretend we're smoking a joint with Snoop Dogg every year? Photo by Seth McConnell,
Can we stop booking the same cliché stoner acts every 4/20? Let’s get creative and bring some interesting and relevant acts into Colorado. Or would we rather pretend we’re smoking a joint with Snoop Dogg every year? Photo by Seth McConnell,

Luckily, booking for the big 4/20 concert at Fiddler’s Green got somewhat creative this year with 2 Chainz and A$AP Rocky. Both are daily smokers who don’t fall into your tired 4/20 artists. 2 Chainz (who, yes, raps a lot about weed, but is far less obtuse about it and far more relevant than most acts booked in Colorado) even told me that he doesn’t see the need to celebrate 4/20, that real weed culture is celebrated every day by people who smoke regularly.

“What I’m saying is some people can get into something and be so engulfed in it that it can take over their lives. That’s not me. I’m a natural user, like my dad was and my mama still is. It’s been in my family for years. This has nothing to do with TV or a show. I do this because I do this,” 2 Chainz said.

Perhaps people would argue that it’s a Colorado 4/20 tradition to see these artists every year. That’s the stoner equivalent of seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra every holiday season … let’s not become that.

We’re on the cutting edge of weed culture in Colorado, we have the chance to start some really cool traditions on 4/20 and in general. Is our tradition to pretend we smoke a joint with Snoop Dogg every 4/20? Wait, do you think you’re smoking a joint with Snoop Dogg every time you see him on 4/20? No, no you’re not. You’re in Snoop Dogg’s general vicinity while he smokes a joint and you also happen to be smoking a joint. Saying you’ve smoked a joint with Snoop Dogg is like people who sing along at a Katy Perry concert saying they’ve performed with Katy Perry.

Legal 4/20 is still young in Colorado. As we move forward and this unofficial weed holiday gains more of an official foothold, we should think about how we as a Colorado music culture will celebrate this day. We should think about how stoner culture is perceived and do our best to make it interesting, unique and cutting edge. Or we could just lazily show up to Snoop Dogg concerts for the next 20 years, like clockwork, every April 20th.

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