When OutKast announced a reunion and subsequent tour, my heart nearly leapt into my skull. Then I watched their first Coachella show and my heart sank into my stomach. Andree 3000 looked bored, Big Boi’s lyrics were erratic and askew and OutKast it was basically a mess. That wasn’t the OutKast I knew and loved—these men were imposters! I kept waiting for them to announce a Denver show and finally they were on the ticket for the Mad Decent Block Party. I reluctantly bought a ticket and began to build excitement months in advance for the show, hoping they could put their puzzle pieces back together. I kept tabs on my boys, watching more and more of their lives shows until finally I thought, hey, they’re starting to look like OutKast.
And on Friday, all expectations were shattered. Flosstradamus got the crowd pumped alongside stand-in hype-man Waka Flaka. Following up in the same fashion was GRiZ and Diplo, respectively. GRiZ got the crowd moving with his funky bass drops and soul samples and Diplo slammed top 40-tracks woven into a trappy EDM set and dance breaks. But by 9:30, fans were restless and expectant. The crowd was one of the more diverse ones I’ve seen, with people from every walk of life all there under one common denominator—OutKast. Parents looked borderline scared and confused during the EDM portion, as they shuffled through the motions awaiting a hip-hop group that shared as much a spot in their heart as their children’s.
Then the men of the night emerged. Andre 3000 let his outfit do the talking with one simple statement: Replace Your Toothbrush—powerful stuff for gingivitis-prone audiences. Big Boi donned an oversized striped train conductor’s jacket and wore the part well. It sure looked like OutKast, but was it really them? Then they erupted into a fiery rendition of “B.O.B.” and everyone in the crowd exchanged euphoric glances as if to say, fuck yeah, the boys are back in town.
They followed up with “Gasoline Dreams” and a personal favorite “ATLiens,” which had the masses waving their arms in the air in unison. The Andre 3000 that looked bored and tired at Coachella was nowhere to be found. Instead, the Big Boi and Dre we all knew and loved from the 90s were literally on fire, spitting flames with every surefire lyric. Their chemistry and vocal interplay was air-tight, once again reminding the world why these two reigned as hip-hop dynasts during their time. They were reborn as rapping Phoenix into flames and onto the stage at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater.
Those close enough to see the men close up undoubtedly saw the firestorms in their eyes, the sparks that said—we were once and we are again: the fucking greatest. They walked in circles around one another in a giant cube LED placed on stage, their safety bubble and joining force uniting them not as Andre and Big Boi, but as OutKast. They were friends, brothers and complements in their cube.
They took crowds back with hits like “Rosa Parks” and “Ms. Jackson” and nostalgia dripped over the shoulders of every person there who fought back tears and shrieks, some allowing for moments of quiet reflection to thank the music gods for allowing them to witness such a spectacle of immensity. Big Boi dominated audiences on “Kryptonite,” which had the masses angrily shouting, IN THE A as if we were all OG’s from ATL on vacation in the Rockies. Then he got the crowd hot-stepping during the upbeat “GhettoMusick” a true exhibition of Big Boi’s hellion lyrical game. Just try and spit that chorus without dousing the people in front of you with speckles of saliva–it’s basically impossible.
3000 returned from backstage after a chant incited by his comrade to drop vocals on “She Lives in My Lap” and called girls from the front of the pit on stage to do their best shaking like a Polaroid picture during “Hey Ya.” The men ripped into “International Player’s Ball” and their band took off like a space shuttle into the night. I had Deja-vu to a dream I had a few nights before where Andre 3000 had taken up the trumpet and made and on-stage debut of his instrument, although that never happened, their band was exquisite. I mean a female bassist that shreds? Check mate. Their vocalists had gut-splitting range and their percussion kept the men on time.
OutKast ended with “The Whole World” and the crowd, though exhausted from having been standing upright (many on a downhill incline) since 5pm, basked in the glory of an extraordinary night. Friends and strangers put their arms around each other and swayed from side to side. For those few minutes, that amphitheater really was The Whole World.
The two hour set brought memories and reminiscence for this powerhouse group and reminded us all what beautiful power a true love of music has. OutKast may have started out shaky while ironing out the kinks of meshing solo careers back into a duo, but their brilliance shone through and it became evident that though stagnant years may sometimes dull a music career, the true OutKast reigns supreme.
Check out more of our amazing photos by Kiddest Metaferia here.