Outkast's Do-Over Recaptures the Spirit of '99

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Timothy Norris
The less-than-outstanding Outkast last week did so much better for the do-over.
Last weekend was supposed to mark the return of the gangster, when Andre 3000 and Big Boi played the first of 40 festival shows to celebrate the duo's twentieth anniversary. However, things didn't go according to plan. Many fans were turned off or, even worse, bored by the set. How was this possible?

Arguably one of the most important and progressive groups of its generation re-formed, yet many fled the scene. Some threw the dreaded "maybe they weren't as good as we remembered" thought out there, while others questioned the longevity of the 'Kast's catalog. These thoughts should be dismissed as utter foolishness.

Having seen the duo in its native Atlanta in 1999, in the period between Aquemini and Stankonia, I can say that anyone who questions Andre and Big Boi's chops as performers is dreadfully mistaken. That show, at Emory University, was everything the first Coachella show was not. It was dynamic, frantic and important. Many who were at that show recognized that the duo were on the cusp something special. With only a small backing band as support, and a special guest appearance by Wu-Tang's Raekwon the Chef on Aquemini's "Skew It on the Bar-B," all eyes were on Outkast, and the group aced the test.

Seeing people questioning the mettle of Outkast after a lackluster performance was understandable. Something wasn't right with the first show. Between Andre's petulant behavior amid myriad technical issues, it felt like the performance either wasn't properly practiced or that some of the parties involved weren't vested in the situation at all. Granted, this was the duo's first show together in more than decade, and maybe those who expected an epic, mind-blowing experience forgot that Outkast needed some time to shake off the proverbial rust.

The stakes were high for this weekend's do-over gig. Another paltry performance would seal the group's fate. But something funny happened on the way to Chase. When the lights hit at 11:05 pm, 25 minutes before Outkast went on last week, there was a feeling that this night would be different. Maybe it was because Andre returned to being Andre, wearing a strange black-and-white getup that was markedly different than his Super Mario look from a week ago.

Continue to page two. Much like Wild Thing Vaughn recapturing himself at the end of Major League II, this was the Andre that dazzled Coachella, while Big Boi was his usual steady self. From the beginning of "B.O.B.," the energy that was lacking the week before was definitely present. Both seemed happy to be onstage, together, and fed off each other's energy. Instead of being frustrated by the sound problems of a week ago, everything was ironed out. That goes for "Ms. Jackson," which was cut by a sound problem last week, and even "Skew It on the Bar-B," which sounded solid sans the Chef.

So maybe the sky isn't falling for Outkast and the hyped reunion just fell victim to a false start. Is this version of Outkast better than the one of a decade ago? Probably not. But at least the two performers took steps necessary to remind people why they were so important to begin with.

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