Smokers Club Tour 2011 will feature Method Man, Curren$y and Big KRIT.

Method Man and Curren$y brought the “Smokers Club Tour” through The Warfield in San Francisco last night, seemingly possessed with extra energy to atone for the absence of Big KRIT, who has unfortunately backed out of this portion of the tour due to illness. Though KRIT’s absence was disappointing, there was no shortage of extra support – with 6 other rappers billed and plenty more rotating on and offstage for guest spots, the goal was clearly to foster an atmosphere of inclusion.

This was perhaps no clearer evidence of this than Curren$y’s stage setup. To account for the broken foot he suffered at last month’s Rock the Bells showcase, Curren$y packed an entire living room into the tour bus – furniture and decorations, yes, but also his crew to inhabit it. While Curren$y killed his entire set while resting on a throne-like leather chair, his crew lounged behind him, sharing joints and snacks while nodding along in solidarity. The whole setup gave off the “Biggest Living Room Show Ever” vibe, which worked incredibly well considering Curren$y’s relaxed, weedolizing persona.

And on that (unavoidable) subject, really, what am I supposed to tell you about this show that you can’t already glean from that poster up there? The air was hazier than a warzone, though the crowd was…slightly less alert, all things considered. And for the first half of Method Man’s show, he was definitely battling some of that audience complacency (and KRIT’s absence was partly responsible for the jarring transition from ultra laid-back mode straight into that Wu Tang Killa Bees brand of aggressiveness).

But that’s the basis of my high praise for Method Man’s set. Clearly frustrated with lukewarm reception, he commandeered a small mid-set interlude to set us straight. The message: “I’ve been doing this for 18 years, I put all my energy into it every night, and I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t my #1 passion. So tell me what I need to do to get you to feel the same energy I’m feeling right now.” And Method is so persuasive that it worked. After he started performing on top of speakers, weaving through the floor while he rapped and surfing/walking on the crowd’s upraised hands during instrumental breaks, we got the message that if a 40-year-old can manage these nutty antics, we could at least do the courtesy of keeping up.

And that’s amazing to me. Swaying a hesitant crowd is like pushing up against a bull: it takes monumental effort and is extremely likely to backfire if the bull isn’t convinced he wants to move. The fact that he had the audience screaming lyrics on ODB tributes and well-represented Wu Tang hits by night’s end (highlight: wrapping things up with “Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nothing To Fuck With”) is a testament to his showmanship and vigor in a young man’s game. If you get a chance to see this tour, do it – before time catches up to a legend and takes him off the tour circuit for good.