Wiz Khalifa at Webster Hall ft. Busta Rhymes: Event Review

Courtesy of Flor-Ann Estiler / FDRMX
Courtesy of Flor-Ann Estiler / FDRMX

I never knew good vibes could be so intense. From the moment the “Wiz Khalifa” letters hit the Webster Hall marquee last night, papers were rolling and tensions were high.

It wouldn’t be a fair review if I didn’t at least try to convey the amount of marijuana that was involved at last night’s show. There was so much hot, dirty smoke in the air, it actually made my throat burn. We couldn’t have been more out of place if we were wearing D.A.R.E. shirts, but we braved a crowd full of wet coughing fits and slow-moving fistfights to see Wiz Khalifa tear it up.

Wiz Khalifa’s setlist included “Hope,” “The Sleaze,” “Work Hard Play Hard,” “Roll Up,” “House in the Hills,” “Something Special,” “Staying Out All Night,” “On My Level,” “Promises,” “So High,” “Banger,” “James Bong,” “Incense,” “Black and Yellow,” “Taylor Gang,” “Coco,” “Raw,” “KK,” “Whippin da Brick,” “We Dem Boyz,” “You and Your Friends,” “Young, Wild & Free” and “Ass Drop.” There was no encore, because the fans were too trashed to remember how to request one.

After years of hard album covers, I was amazed at how young and sweet he looked in person. Beneath his bright purple hair, Khalifa’s positive energy was infectious. The backdrop behind him was a big conglomeration of negative (and real) headlines about the rapper, which was beyond cool. He delivered every hit like it was fresh and new. As the bass literally shook the floor, the audience threw themselves into every beat with violent adoration.

As always, Khalifa was backed by Taylor Gang and a wall of smoke. But he was remarkably focused and professional for someone with an unshakable stoner rep. He did smoke onstage, but it didn’t cause his delivery to falter, and not once did he lose his captivating intensity. When Busta Rhymes and The Conglomerate’s O.T. Genasis made a surprise appearance for “Coco,” the crowd reaction was absolutely insane.

But by no fault of the artist or the venue, the atmosphere was almost unbearable. Somehow, being high had granted many of the male spectators groping privileges, which resulted in a lot of repulsive exchanges. Many of the females felt entitled to scream in the faces of random strangers and slam into them full force as they danced. Without apology, someone dumped not one, but two drinks all over my hair, down the back of my sweater, and into my bag. I don’t know what was more frustrating, the fact that it happened, or the fact that they were too stoned to even understand that it had happened.

The security guards at Webster Hall pulled several people out and made every effort to keep things under control, but the crowd was a thunderstorm of slurred arguments and secondhand oxygen. If all the green sounds like fun, trust me, it’s not. It was like a big, nasty hit that you couldn’t stop taking.

I suppose this comes with the territory at a Wiz Khalifa show, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, he recently said in an interview that he wants to get away from his persona, saying “I kind of want to break the stigma of everything I do is like a ‘stoner this’ or a ‘weed head’ that, which is cool, that’s what I built my marketing and my brand, but, at the end of the day, everyone who is successful in film or in music gets high and they don’t look at them as the stoner.”

I think it’s fantastic that he wants to shift the focus onto his work, because he is incredibly talented. Hopefully, when he starts to do so, a better crowd will follow.