Monday, September 6
Better than: The vast majority of other greatest-hits sets performed in bowling alleys.
So Big Boi, as someone in his management circle is explaining before tonight’s festivities begin, went to see Prince once, and was dismayed to learn that Prince refused to play anything from Purple Rain. “Why am I here then?” the distraught rapper reportedly exclaimed. It would seem he vowed that night never to deprive his own fans in such a brazen, past-denying manner, because once tonight’s festivities do begin, he throws every Outkast song he can think of at us, immediately.
Seriously. Sample instructions to his DJ: “There’s so many motherfuckin’ songs, I don’t give a fuck. Just play some shit.” And so once he hits the stage, it’s a full 15 minutes before the vast majority of the 21st century even exists: As a mere warm-up we’re inundated with “ATLiens,” “Skew It on the Bar-B,” “Rosa Parks,” “So Fresh, So Clean,” and a particularly triumphant “Ms. Jackson,” all delivered with maximum enthusiasm and precision, every song synced up exactly with its video and broadcast on the big-screen TVs over the bowling lanes — like, even the owl in the “Ms. Jackson” video goes “HOOO” in perfect time. The most efficient greatest-hits delivery system imaginable, every golden moment recreated down to the syllable.
That initial burst of nostalgia deployed, then and only then do we acknowledge that Big Boi has, you know, a solo career. The Sir Luscious Left Foot fares nearly as well — “General Patton” graced with concussive bass, the labyrinthine boasts of “Daddy Fat Sax” twisted into double-time, the climactic “You Ain’t No DJ” triggering the night’s only guest star, the indefatigable Yelawolf, who slinks around menacingly and shouts “OUTKAAAST! FOR LIIIIFE! BIG BOOOOI! FOR LIIIIIFE!” as though he’s a screamo frontman, not a rapper. (Still love that guy.) Otherwise, save his DJ and his hypeman, Big’s only cohort onstage is his nine-year-old son, Cross, who bounds out periodically to offer interpretive dances to “B.O.B.” and “The Way You Move.”
All in all a thoroughly delightful 50 minutes, punctuated by a brief speech assuring us that right after Andre 3000 does his own solo album, a reunited Outkast will jump right back in the studio. We know better than to sit around waiting for that to happen, of course, but as we’re blasted with the near-pornographic slither of 1994’s “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” it’s abundantly clear Big Boi will neither forsake his own Purple Rain moments nor tire of recreating them. There are few people out there better at giving you exactly what you want, exactly how you remember it.
The crowd: White girls yelling “Daddy Fat Sacks!” at the top of their lungs will just never get old.
Random Notebook Dump: Pretty sure I saw the Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood holding court in front of one of the bowling lanes. Georgia guys stick together.
Overheard: “I think Big Boi wants an Outkast reunion just as much as I do.”