About half-way through his set of banging pop-rap tunes, Wiz Khalifa (or his DJ) switched on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana and simply let it play for about a minute and a half. Wiz did not rap during this. Instead, he head bobbed and danced. The crushing chorus hit, passed, and then Khalifa launched into another one of his songs, “No Sleep.” And, by this time in the night, this action made total sense.
The reason is that, from the very beginning of his Riverfest performance, it’s clear that Khalifa is throwing a party. Not even really “Wiz Khalifa” the person though, more like the brand. The person Wiz Khalifa is a simple ambassador for a set of items to help you have a good time: weed, sweatshirts, music, giant inflatable blunts. Artists sell a lifestyle now and Khalifa’s is "party."
He begins, as do many hosts, by making sure that people are accommodated, asking many times early in his set variations of: Do you want to get high? Are you high? Do you want to get high with Wiz Khalifa? Do you want to party? Do you like to party? Do you want to party all night?
He then lets everyone know, either through the lyrics of songs like “Bake Sale” and “Work Hard, Play Hard” or by saying it into mic: “I don’t know what y’all heard about me but I came to party.” This is perhaps surprising for a man affiliated so closely with marijuana, but Wiz Khalifa did not bring a laid back chill to the outdoor arena. He instead stands on stage and orchestrates a bonanza.
It helps that so many of his songs are recognizable and fun, perfect party fodder — you could see people turn to their friends and tap them excitedly on the shoulder, maybe conjuring back some memory they’d shared to the music. The humidity also aided, making the amphitheater feel hot and close for most of the concert (even for those not squished into the center of the audience, beating their large glowsticks against the night).
It should probably be illegal to review a Wiz Khalifa concert while totally sober, as I did, so when I got a bit bored near the end I’ll blame it on myself. It is tantamount to writing a movie review without the sound on or discussing food without taste buds. But, even for non-stumbly me, Wiz’s brand was a congenial source of a nice way to pass the time.
Earlier in the week I’d downloaded Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm — an iPhone game released on 4/20. In the game, you place potted strains of marijuana in a fenced off urban lot scattered with dream gifts for a twelve year old (dog, DJ booth, cool car, bicycle, skateboard). You can pass a few minutes clicking on your plants and they produce coins that glide up to the right hand corner. Eventually you level up (I’m still a “Grow Intern” though). As I tended to my agriculture, I sat near the portapotties and smelled someone tending to their actual weed as the breeze hit off the river.