With the legalization of weed occurring earlier this year in Missouri, it was perfect timing to host a concert that brought thousands of stoners and music lovers together to celebrate 4/20. The venue, which was pocketed on the North side of the Missouri River, was a little hard to reach coming off Route 291 with exit construction and traffic. Additionally, parking was an experience in itself as it seemed like we were entering a portal to liminal spaces driving past various industrial companies. However, once you made it to the Smokey River Entertainment District, it felt like the perfect haven to have a chill and relaxing evening.
The event itself was hosted by several independent companies, stemming from Besa Brands and Services which is a local dispensary in Missouri to Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang Record Label. Smoke DZA’s Smokers Club and Berner’s Cookies also took part in hosting the festival, making it a great event for independent businesses. In addition, the Entertainment District hosted several local food trucks along with various CBD and bar options for the attendees. You couldn’t buy THC products at the event, however, they made sure to include a drop-off option at the venue.
As far as the artists go, they brought their own smoke.
Chevy Woods was up first. He brought out a chill uncle vibe that you’d wanna kick it with if that makes any sense. Although he chilled everyone out, Woods still did a decent job getting the crowd going. If you’ve read my past reviews, however, then you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of rappers who mainly adlib during their performances. There were only a couple of times that he went into a verse that felt meaningful to me. I will say that his ability to work the crowd impressed me though, as it seemed like the crowd was more connected with each other after his set. Chevy’s performance set the right mood for a concert centered around celebrating 4/20.
Up next was Smoke DZA, progressing the mood from a chill day out into a more heavy-hitting feel. With such a wide variety of music in his discography, Smoke DZA rapped over some of his tracks with some smooth production, but wasn’t afraid to turn it up a notch. I immediately got the stank face when he performed one of my favorite songs, “Drug Rap”, a track off of his and Benny the Butcher’s collab project, Statue of Limitations which they released back in 2019. Following a more lowkey set by Chevy I was heavily impressed by the swagger that Smoke DZA brought, plus I was heavily rockin with his Lisa Simpson fit.
The third performer to come on was Berner. Hailing from California, I had never heard of Berner before his performance, so I didn’t have any expectations going into the show. But wow did his introduction impress me. His video captured the attention of the entire audience as it highlighted Berner’s achievements both in music and business. This was crucial, in my opinion, because I don’t think he had much of a following in Kansas. I guarantee that he had a few thousand people looking up his discography after the concert though. As far as his performance goes, I couldn’t tell if he had autotune for his mic or if he was lip-syncing his lyrics, but what set him apart in my eyes was his production. Matching trippy lyricism with heavy-hitting 808s and high-pitched melodies produced almost a pop-like feel to his music, something that I haven’t heard in a while in rap. If his music or business sense wasn’t enough to set him apart, I’m sure witnessing a marriage proposal at the end of his set did. That was honestly one of the last things I was expecting at a smoke fest, but it was a memory for everyone involved.
Joey Bada$$ was up next and when he came on, people started to faint… literally. The weather was perfect and there weren’t any mosh pits at this point of the concert, so I guess that those who passed out hadn’t quite built up a tolerance yet. Either that or perhaps they made the mistake of getting too crossed with the alcohol available. Regardless, the staff and performers did a great job in getting help to those who needed it as aid was regularly available throughout the show.
When he wasn’t helping attendees get some air, Joey was giving a prolific rap performance. Performing his most popular tracks such as “Temptations”, “Paper Trail$”, and “Righteous Minds”, Joey gave an enlightening experience to those who were listening. Not only was Joey spitting conscious bars, but also made sure to show off his ability to make R&B music by performing his tracks “Show Me” and “Fallin'”. Additionally, he gave a tribute to late rapper XXXTentacion by performing their collab song “Infinity (888)”. He also paid tribute to his old friend and rap partner Capital Steez several times throughout his performance. Both rappers were also featured in the In Memorium that Wiz Khalifa hosted while performing his song “See You Again”.
R.I.P. to those with the vision…
But not all of Wiz’s set was mellow. He made sure to lighten up the mood with songs like “Young, Wild and Free” and “The Thrill”, getting the crowd to dance. Khalifa also brought heavy-hitting tracks, getting everyone in the crowd to jump to “Black and Yellow” and “We Dem Boyz”. I hadn’t realized the number of hits that Wiz has created over the years, but being able to see them live was an experience that I highly recommend. Wiz Khalifa’s performance showed me the mark that he has made on rap over the years and he deserves his respect.
Overall, I believe that this opening year’s 420 Fest proved to be a great success for the artists, small businesses, local residents, and the State of Missouri as a whole! I was impressed with most of the performances throughout the night as well as the venue and its staff for providing a safe spot to have a good time and enjoy the artistry. The only downside to the event in my eyes was the parking situation, however, they still did a great job dealing with it raining the night before the show. I’m guessing that they’ll have this issue resolved for next year’s show!