With some much happening at Coachella, we'll be providing daily recaps of the acts we saw and the other random things we did. Day one: We saw OutKast.
A thick wave of smoke filled the air at the Coachella stage at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California when someone onstage let off a war cry. “Hootie hooooo” they called. Just a few short moments later, OutKast appeared on stage—performing together for the first time in seven years.
Like the American flag that adorned the screen behind them during the opening of their set, this was supposed to mean something. OutKast was together again. The duo performed from inside of a glass cube that provided visuals during their performances. Andre 3000 sported overalls, a navy blue hoodie, and a green hat—an outfit that somehow gave off a bit of a Luigi vibe. Meanwhile, his partner in rhyme Big Boi rocked a gold chain that recalled hip-hop’s golden era.
They opened their set with Andre 3000 cruising through his hyper-speed verse from “B.O.B.” with Big Boi playing hypeman—even as Andre’s mic remained a problem throughout their set—as their live band and backup singers played along. Before going into “Gasoline Dreams,” Andre asked the crowd, “Hey Coachella, are y’all even alive?” But it seemed less like a rhetorical question and more like a serious inquiry.
Andre asked the crowd, “Hey Coachella, are ya’ll even alive?” But it seemed less like a rhetorical question and more like a serious inquiry.
Seeing a tepid crowd at Coachella respond to one of the greatest rap groups of all time is heartbreaking. This is OutKast we’re talking about; their discography is filled with classics. For months now we’ve been hearing about how everyone and their momma and cousin, too, love the Atlanta duo so much. Maybe fans were exhausted from a long day of performances (OutKast didn’t hit the stage until 11:30 PST) but they still didn’t seem like they knew OutKast’s catalog all that well besides the hits from their best selling album, 2003’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. At one point, when they performed “ATLiens,” they asked, “Everybody let me hear you say, ‘O-Yea-yer’” and the crowd could barely even muster up an energetic response.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few missteps on OutKast’s part, though that’s to be expected considering their long hiatus and high profile performance. It was nice of them to bring out Future (which certainly did more for Future than it did for OutKast) who gave them a quick burst of energy with “Same Damn Time.” But if you’re gonna have him do three songs (really, three songs?), one of them really shouldn’t be a new song like "Benz Friendz (Whatchutola)." It brought down the energy because obviously no one knew the words to it yet. Andre announced that his idol Prince was backstage but he sadly did not make an appearance. However, Janelle Monae and Sleepy Brown were welcome guests, even if it was strange to see them on the headliners stage.
Technical problems forced them to cut “Ms. Jackson” halfway through. And their set ended in super awkward fashion; after spending too much time on album cuts and separate solo mini sets, they ran over their set time and couldn’t even perform “The Whole World.” Killer Mike, who they brought out to perform with them, was down to rock out anyway. But Andre warned that they’d be fined and it would cost them too much. OutKast then ungracefully bowed out for the night, with Andre saying, “I know it’s kind of weird” and Big Boi telling fans they’d see them next week. Better luck next time?
OutKast plans to spend the rest of this summer headlining nearly every festival that matters. The fact that their set to headline that many shows says a lot about their legacy and appeal as draw. OutKast getting together again is a big deal. They have plenty of time to work out the kinks of their live show though. Regardless of how the night went, OutKast is back. This wasn’t their best performance, but considering their catalog and their caliber, that doesn’t mean it isn’t coming soon.
Insanul Ahmed is an Associate Editor at Complex. He's out at Coachella for the weekend. Follow him on Twitter.