Published Jul 30, 2016A gorgeous summer Friday night by the lake — and the kickoff to the August long weekend, Caribana, and the seventh annual OVO Fest. So the air is thick with anticipation and a little something else; unless you remembered to pack your hazmat suit, there was no escaping a contact high under the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre canopy.
Snoop Dogg strolls out first, a camel-toned blunt as long as two middle fingers flickering from his mouth as he busts directly into "The Next Episode," followed in rapid succession by "Nuthin' But a G Thang" and "Bitch Please."
A smoking baton is passed to the likeminded Wiz Khalifa, 16 years Snoop's junior, who dives into his own crossover smashes: the Travis Scott–spiced "Bake Sale" and the fratboy chant-along "We Dem Boyz." It's barely 9 p.m.
Every way you look, heads nod, arms wave, and loud, stinky plumes float upward, trapped by the venue's tent. A comically thick bat nearly the size of a cardboard paper towel roll circulates in the row behind you. It may not be possible to hotbox an outdoor venue, but damn if this fully packed crowd didn't try. The High Road Tour, indeed.
Calvin and Cameron share more than a medicinal vice. The night's co-headliners — and co-stars of 2012's stoner flick Mac & Devin Go to High School — are both intensely prolific MCs. Both have risen from the underground to establish large, devoted fan bases. Both possess an enviable knack for writing pop-rap smashes. And both tour relentlessly.
Having seen each star's solo set on a number of occasions, the back-and-forth of the Snoop-Wiz tag team (complete with two DJs) is refreshing, and well-catered for our ADD times. Because of the concert-going age demographic, fans on this night lean a little more Taylor Gang than Death Row. Though it comes from a genuine place, the collaboration is also shrewd business move on Snoop's part, as the D-O-Double-G remains relatively relevant into year 24 of his recording career.
The night's undercard took a hit when Kevin Gates, who spent 31 months in prison between 2008 and 2011, failed to cross the border, but a cape-wearing, dyed-blonde Jhene Aiko gave a loose and warm performance with a full band. It's evident the L.A. singer is growing more confident with her set.
Making up for Gates's absence is the unexpected appearance of Ty Dolla $ign during the main set. What is OVO Fest without surprises? Dolla delivers a mini set of his hits ("Saved," "Wavy," "Don't Tell 'Em") and joins Wiz for "Or Nah."
Halfway through their two-hour barrage of hits (musical and otherwise), Snoop and Wiz disappear from the stage and secretly pop up past the 300 section, giving the lawn crowd an unexpected front-row experience.
Oversized balloon blunts — the new beach balls, apparently — bounce off the hands of the standing-only cluster near the front of the stage as Snoop rips "Drop It Like It's Hot" and covers two verses of House of Pain's "Jump Around."
Wiz counters with "On My Level" and gets cellphones lit with last summer's ubiquitous (and sappy) "See You Again."
The friends wrap up the party with a perfect if predictable choice, "Young, Wild and Free." Their biggest joint song can't be listened to without a smile. The message is simple: "Roll one, smoke one / And we all just havin' fun."