By Sunday, July 15, the Calgary Stampede was (quite literally) beating a dead horse (or three), so it was nice that it was finally ending and those of us who don’t enjoy cowboy hats, weird alcohol shots and labia-hugging jean shorts could leave our homes once again.
It wasn’t gonna end without a bang, though, which is why Snoop Dogg brought his pot-friendly jams to the strange, hostile, apocalyptic piss puddle that was the Cowboys Stampede Tent.
First we had to get there, though. Driving through the crawl that was 12 Ave S.W., we finally made it to one of those gravel parking lots where weird-smelling dudes take your money to let you park there. “How much is it?” “$25.” “We only have $10.” “Okay, $15.” “We only have $10.” Like bartering with a Tijuana street vendor, we eventually won out and got a spot for cheap.
Then we walked through the Cowboys Casino, which was an insane wonderland of depressed debauchery as scantily clad, vacant-stared girls danced on tables for drooling middle-aged men. Through the doors, we made our way to the VIP of the Cowboys Stampede Tent, where a top 40 DJ was already spinning up a storm.
Once inside, it was a perfect depiction of all the downsides of the Stampede: dudes whose Dippity Doo’d hair remained perfectly spiked when they took off their cowboy hats, mullets that were either sincere, ironic or both, blonde girls showing off their expensive fake boobies and denim cutoffs that doubled as thongs.
While an hour of shitty Gotye remixes was enough to get the plastered land administrators wildin’ out on the dance floor, we needed a brief respite from the chaos so we took our Budweisers to an outside picnic table for some people watching.
It was much more than people watching, however, as an archetypal spiky-haired oil company dude came and sat with us. “Can you guys pretend to be my friends? I’m about to get kicked out for puking. I swear I’m not wasted I just had a tequila shot that didn’t sit well after ten days of partying. Also I need to find my girlfriend but she lost her phone…”
As these situations always are, there was a long discussion of the myriad issues that had befallen this young man, before his friend in a Crown Royal-branded straw cowboy hat came over and told him he needed to go find his little brother before they got kicked the fuck out.
“Where do you work?” one of them asked me. I said Fast Forward Weekly, to which the one guy replied, “Oh, that’s that fucking paper that actually tells you what’s going on. I always read it and find out that Face to Face is playing again, but I’ve missed them the last seven fucking times.”
Yes, there’s something endearing about wasted business men in their mid-30s. But enough was enough, so we made it back inside the fuck barn tent to see if Snoop Dogg was about to start.
There was an opener from Halifax or something (it was impossible to hear what was going on), and it was enough to have everyone going crazy. Some plastically altered females were dancing in bikinis in a large boat off to the side of the dancefloor, some sort of cross-promotion for something or another (maybe the Plan B pill?). Either way, the appearance of barely covered breasts had plenty of wasted douchebags zig-zagging over there to try and strike up a conversation.
Then Snoop Dogg started, and it was, well, it was more of the same: a complete disaster, but also likeable in its douchiness. The crowd was just being themselves — people who had just bought a round for their whole crew were wandering around aimlessly, trying to figure out where everyone had gone as they balanced $50 in shitty drinks. I even saw a girl trying to carry three fully loaded hot dogs towards the stage.
It was really a weird mix of people, as corrupt cowboy culture met conscious rap dudes. There were plenty of girls filming themselves as they danced and sang along, while others perched on their male counterpart’s shoulders in their criminally short jean shorts, presumably leaving some sort of sweaty discharge on the back of the poor men’s necks. I also saw some sort of “hip-hop head” rapping along in a pinstriped dress shirt, doing a funky white guy dance and attempting to impress his girlfriend. Plus, there’s photographic evidence that Common was chilling in the V.I.P., presumably freestyling about how much he loves the Stampede.
As for the music, it’s pretty hard to hear anything more than bass, snare and some muffled vocals in a giant outdoor tent, but the songs were at least recognizable. In addition to the most obvious choices like “Gin and Juice,” Snoop went all over the map rehashing his guest verses (we jokingly said “I bet he’ll do his verse from that Katy Perry song” and then he did!) and even some straight-up covers (now everyone’s going to think “Jump Around” is a Snoop Dogg song).
In reality, Snoop has a pretty easy job. Everyone loves him for being laid back and weeded out, so he just chills on stage, gently dropping verses and barely moving around, letting the hype men and back-up dancers (let’s be honest with ourselves: they’re strippers) do the majority of the work.
It might sound like I’m being negative, but I actually had a lot of fun at Snoop Dogg. The people-watching was amazing, the music was loud and I laughed harder than I usually do at shows. If anyone knows how to lose their minds and go dumb on the dance floor it’s idiots, so the crowd was ideal for this amped up conclusion to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth™.