By the time SweetWater 420 Fest kicked off late Friday afternoon, the sopping rain of earlier in the day had ceased and the weather turned pleasantly cool.
That lasted for most of the first night of the three-day festival – until Mother Nature returned with a growl during Kid Rock’s vigorous set.
The Detroit rocker and his smokin’ band electrified the main stage with unabashedly rowdy versions of “Rock and Roll Jesus” and “You Never Met a M*********** Quite Like Me,” as the well-sloshed crowd gleefully fist-pumped along.
Kid Rock roamed the stage like an uncaged panther, flipping his microphone like a baton and unleashing howls. Love him or hate him, you can’t help but watch him.
From the rough-and-tumble “Cocky” to the Lynyrd Skynyrd-sampling anthem “All Summer Long,” Kid Rock was earning his keep as the fest’s first night headliner until a fast-moving storm intervened and cut his set short.
But the decent-sized crowd that filled more than half of Centennial Olympic Park experienced a fulfilling night, regardless.
On the smaller Planet 420 Stage, electro-rockers Zoogma drew a cluster of curious music listeners, while later in the evening San Diego trio Pepper brought their head-bobbing reggae rock to the stage. “F*** Around (All Night)” instigated a sing-along, and singer-bassist Bret Bollinger mentioned that the band will release a new album April 29.
Back on the massive main stage (a third area, the 420 Disco Stage, will also be stocked for the weekend), Cypress Hill reminded the audience that they’ve been coming to Atlanta since 1991 and provided longtime fans with a few familiar nods to the old days.
B-Real and Sen Dog rapped over Eric Bobo’s beat during “Boom Biddy Bye Bye” and reached back to 1993 for “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That” and “Cock the Hammer.”
With DJ Muggs behind them, B-Real and Sen Dog joked with the crowd, “How you feeling, stoners?”
Cypress Hill is releasing its ninth album, “Elephants on Acid,” this year.
Following the California hip-hop veterans was Philly jam band The Disco Biscuits.
Even if you aren’t familiar with their winding instrumentals that can incorporate guitar-scratching funk and electronic fusion, stay for the light show, which looks like the result of a Pink Floyd concert and a planetarium mating.
Fittingly, the band played their own version of Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” as green lasers crisscrossed the stage and heavy-lidded fans whooshed along for the ride.
SweetWater 420 Fest continues Saturday with The Roots, Bastille, Tokyo Police Club, Awolnation and more and Sunday with Michael Franti & Spearhead, Ludacris, Robert DeLong and Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals.
Visit www.sweetwater420fest.com for ticket information.