OutKast returns! 

Dre and Big Boi quash worries with solid CounterPoint set

TWO DOPE BOYZ: Big Boi (left) and Andre 3000 back in the Dirty.

Dustin Chambers

TWO DOPE BOYZ: Big Boi (left) and Andre 3000 back in the Dirty.

We were all a little worried. As passionate, devoted, and longtime followers of the house that Andre 3000 and Big Boi built, how could we not shake off the sweaty palms, the feelings of uncertainty, and questioning whether or not two of our heroes still had it? Most of you won't admit to having those thoughts but they were there. The first Coachella performance didn't help. Sure, die-hard 'Kast fans appreciated seeing the "Two Dope Boyz" gracing the stage side by side again for the first time in 10 years, but with plenty of seemingly misguided and awkward moments (hello, Andre's back-turned "Hey Ya" performance, the separate solo sets, and Future getting more airtime than most of his Dungeon Family elders). From there we got an unsolicited but spot-on review from Questlove involving the art of a set list. Billboard dubbed the great OutKast and the kickoff of the duo's 40-stop tour to commemorate 20 years in the business as "imperfect" at best. But for those of us who grew up placing Andre and Big Boi right there with Superman, Wolverine, and every other badass mythical beings who called this earth home, "imperfect" wasn't good enough.

Fast-forward to April 27, the muggy, Glo-Stick–laden confines of CounterPoint and the younger, more suburban crowd at Kingston Downs looked a lot like the mass of hipster bodies back in Indio, Calif. However, there was a distinct difference — this was home. A homecoming show can be a gift and a curse: the expectations will be almost impossible to meet, but the energy is sure to be unmatched. From the moment OutKast hit the stage opening with "Bombs Over Baghdad," there was a magnificent aura to both men.

While Big Boi has more or less carried the show (albeit with a painful knee injury), we knew it wasn't because Andre was incapable, but because the former has spent the last few years proving he's quite able. In the early shows, it was obvious Dre had missed a step, maybe a few, but seeing that he hasn't rocked a stage in years and recently lost both of his parents, you can't completely knock a man for maybe not having his head all the way in the right place. Well fuck, Dre's mind and body came to shut shit down on that CounterPoint stage.

Donning a black jump suit, white wig, and shades, the guy we remember once rocking the Tabernacle in feathered shorts and ski boots was back to his eccentric, out-of-this-world self. Sure, those weird squawks and ad libs that sounded like a 13-year-old girl being surprised by her classroom crush seemed odd, but you could grow to love them when you stopped to realize Dre was actually trying. Something folks said was not the case at Coachella.

When they told us, "It's good to be back in the Dirty," they meant it. From there, the crowd's hips moved to "Da Art of Storytellin' (Part 1)," plenty of blunts were passed during "SpottieOttieDopaliscious," and just when I was feeling skeptical about the MCs breaking off into solo sets for a few minutes, the crowd went absolutely ape shit when Big ripped into "Kryptonite."

Janelle Monáe came out to join Three Stacks for "Hey Ya," you know just dancing, and being Janelle. That was cool enough. Hell, right before that Dre asked the ladies if they wanted to "come up here and dance" for him. Even though not one of the nice girls took him up on the offer, Dre's smile was priceless.

For those of us who love digging deep into the OutKast lore, our boys were ready to take us there with a four-song run that went from Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik staples "Hootie Hoo," "Crumblin' Erb," "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik," and "Player's Ball." For those wanting some more Dungeon Family presence, there was no Goodie Mob cameo, but there was plenty of Sleepy Brown. That's always a good thing.

There could have been some more fine-tuning on the production element of the show. Instead of giving folks at the back of the monstrous crowd a better view of the two men on stage, the projector screen set up displayed roses, milky ways, spreading lady legs, and everything but a closer look at our two performers. OutKast has its performing groove back, but the theatrics, stage show, and much of the visual elements could still use some work. Well, with the exception of the fireworks that closed things out as Killer Mike joined Big and Dre to end the show with "The Whole World." That shit was too cold. ICE COLD!

Despite the fact that CounterPoint was suspended due to rain, the crowd didn't miss a beat, even though the original 10 p.m. showtime was pushed back to 11 (they finally went on at about 11:30, and performed for about an hour and 15 minutes — that's 15 short of their allotted time). Sure, there was your occasional couple stumbling through the crowd after a little too much Molly, but the attentiveness and participation was there. Chances are, a large chunk of that audience was just there to see OutKast. Even though CounterPoint didn't technically take place in Atlanta, the ATL came out to remind Dre and Big that they will always have a place in the hearts, on the record players, and in the Cadillacs of the people in the city and state that raised them. Worries? What worries.

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