Let’s all agree on this: Outkast’s big reunion got off to a rough start.
Last week the Atlanta duo kicked off an extensive anniversary run with a headlining slot at the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival. And it wasn’t quite what you’d expect from the groundbreaking group revered for their bouncy and trippy Southern fried rap.
Depending on whom you asked, the crowd wasn’t into it, and André 3000 wasn’t into it. The duo lacked chemistry, the production was spotty and the show as a whole was seriously underrehearsed.
But this is Coachella redux and on Friday the guys gave it another shot.
Crowd expectations (or lack thereof for all the cynics out there) for Friday’s set was nothing short of redemptive.
For starters, the production had obviously worked out the kinks that bogged down their first set, and Outkast certainly seemed to have listened to all those complaints on social media following last week’s showing. They sounded crisper, their jampacked setlist was notably tighter and the pacing of the show was far better.
Crowd retention was still a bit tough, especially midway through, but just blame that on weary festival-goers exhausted from a packed day.
Their best move? Pushing “Hey Ya!” higher up to reinvigorate the crowd, cutting back on their solo sets and dropping songs that didn’t move the crowd last week. And, thankfully, there was no Future on hand to drag things along.
But above all that, the duo seemed in better spirits.
A great deal of their first show showed them rapping in circles in a massive opaque cube, the set’s centerpiece, which kept them at an uncomfortable distance from the crowd – and each other. On Friday, they ventured out sooner and, more importantly, looked like they were actually having fun onstage.
André 3000 bopped around with a renewed energy, jumping and shimmying and grooving continuously with a wide grin on his face. Big Boi matched him, and they often flashed knowing smiles at each other.
Across the field both Crosses and Anti Flag played to sizable crowds (Michael Brun’s late-night set at the Sahara Tent, however, was a virtual ghost town). But the real fun was watching Outkast turn things around with a triumphant showing.
André even dialed up his signature quirk, trading his baggy overalls for a black-and-white jumpsuit, a gigantic tag that read “For Sale” on one side and “Sold Out” on the other dangled from the outfit. He also sported a blonde wig that was styled into Rapunzel-like braids.
“Are ya’ll having a good time?” André asked. For comparison, last week he was asking the crowd if they were “alive.”
After a spirited run-though of “The Whole World” alongside Killer Mike (a song that didn’t make the cut last this week because they went past curfew) the crowd was fully behind the group. “We’ll see you all summer long – at a festival near you,” Big Boi said.
“Outkast! Outkast! Outkast!” people chanted, getting louder with each cheer. Big Boi came back out, but only to take a second bow and offer an expletive-laced retort to haters of last week.
We stand corrected.