Cheese on the wire

Method Man played Cheese on HBO’s hit <i>The Wire</i>. On Monday night, he played Badass with a capital “B” at the newly swankified and improved Venue on R Street.

Method Man played Cheese on HBO’s hit The Wire. On Monday night, he played Badass with a capital “B” at the newly swankified and improved Venue on R Street.

Photo By Nick Miller

Maced at Method Man:
I’ve been sober for five years and haven’t been to jail in about 10. So if you had told me that I’d end Monday night high, trying to wipe Mace out of my eyes, I wouldn’t have believed you. (Actually, that’s not true. I totally would have believed you, because my life sucks.)

But on to the show. Method Man played at Venue last Monday, the day before April 20, and, Jesus Christ, there was a lot of weed. I don’t partake, and I was going to be sly writing about all the pot by using code words and referencing ambiguous “billows of smoke wafting into the rafters,” but there’s no point. There was weed everywhere. My friend walked by the stage and found about an eighth of pot just sitting there. The club was like Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, except instead of candy and midgets, there was shitloads of weed.

But enough about marijuana.

Method Man is one-ninth of the Wu-Tang Clan. He played Cheese on the HBO series The Wire and starred with fellow rapper Redman in the pot comedy How High. And he’s notorious for putting on an insane performance. I mean, Sacramento’s Chase Moore and Cawzlos did an amazing job opening the show. But when Method Man took to the stage, the audience really came alive.

With Streetlife, his Wu-Tang associate, by his side, Method Man burst onto the stage with the track “Method Man,” which made the crowd a tiny bit insane. They jumped, danced and sang along to the lo-fi growl of the bass and the dungeonesque Rza beat that made Method Man the superstar he is today.

Whether he was riding the stripped-down grit of Tical’s “Bring the Pain” or the hyphy-esque, ultramodern party joint “Fall Out,” Method Man’s gravelly voice, which nearly breaks into song when he rhymes, was the star of the show. When Method Man raps, the audience can see charisma glowing from his fingertips, eyes, mouth, and it’s almost as if the rapper might explode into a mass of energy at any given moment. And he does. Every time. When Method Man took off his white Adidas jacket to reveal an orange Sunkist soda shirt, he dove into the crowd, letting a couple dozen hands support his weight as he carried out a tribute to his fallen Wu-Tang member Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

It’s clear that wherever Method Man is going, the crowd is right there with him. If he wants to rap a verse from “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” while he does a stage dive off the Marshall stack, then the audience will catch him. If he wants to let DJ Dice do a beat-juggling tribute to Jam Master Jay, then so be it.

Method Man is a man of the people, which is why when the club is only half full, and he says, “I’m still going to rock this bitch like it’s a motherfucking arena,” the crowd tends to believe him. When he feels a lull, from perhaps too much new, unfamiliar music, he assures the crowd, “You came here to hear that old shit, right?” Yes. Which is why when the murky snare and horror-movie piano loop sounded on “What the Blood Clot,” every cherished memory of every early Wu-Tang moment flooded the mind.

And you know what else flooded the mind? Fucking Mace. When the show ended, the crowd meandered out into the chilly night. Everyone was high, half from the energy of a great show and half from the hundreds of kilos of marijuana. Across the street was a black guy in the bushes followed by a security guard trying to apprehend him. The black guy faked left and moved right. The security guard blasted him with a stream of Mace. A gust of wind blew and carried the chemical agent into the exiting crowd. As it moved, snakelike into the night, the mass of people began to collectively wheeze, cough and gasp for air. (Josh Fernandez)