With tickets to the second weekend of Coachella, I vehemently tried to avoid reading about the first weekend, but the Outkast commentary was impossible to ignore. The reviews were mostly negative, and there were words like “lackluster,” “disappointing,” and “dismal” being thrown around. I read about how awkward it was, and how André 3000 didn’t seem into it. I read that he turned his back on the audience during “Hey Ya.” I read about how the audience didn’t know any of the music besides the hits. Eventually, I stopped reading.
By the time that it was my turn to see Outkast a week later, expectations were low. I was worried that the worst would be realized, and that after over a decade of being an Outkast fan, I’d finally get a chance to see them live and I’d be—just like lots of people who went to the first weekend of Coachella—disappointed. I’d be disappointed because Outkast went on hiatus and they were never the same again.
The first few notes of “B.O.B.” blasted through the speakers, and out came André and Big Boi. Instead of the overalls that he wore during last weekend’s performance, Three Stacks wore a bright orange beanie over a white wig with long braids that went past his waist, and a black-and-white onesie with a tag that read “Sold Out” tacked onto the side of his suit. Clever. It was like seeing Kurt Cobain on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing a shirt that said, “Corporate magazines still suck.” Maybe it was just a fashion statement, but it seemed like more—like a playful jab at the whole idea of Outkast raking in millions of dollars by performing at all these corporate-funded events during their 40-festival run this summer. If nothing else, it was a hint of things to come during this revamped, hit-filled setlist, fulfilling my anxieties.
So I waited for that awkwardness, that underlying tension between Big Boi and André, that resistance to perform the hits. But there was none of that. André sported a dazzling smile. Big Boi was on point, blasting through the rapid-fire rhymes that we know and love him for. The two vibed, got nostalgic during “Playas Ball,” traded verses on “Roses,” and André even looked like he enjoyed himself during “Hey Ya,” a song that he’s outwardly proclaimed that he hates to perform (though he did admit that he’s “too old for [those] moves,” yielding a less lively rendition).
Comparing the setlists from weekends one and two, it almost looks like the duo came to a happy medium, letting go of the radio hits and giving Outkast fans some of that old school shit. There was no Janelle Monáe or Future, but there was Killer Mike and “Crumblin’ Erb.” And the crowd seemed to know every single word.
The difference between weekend one and weekend two could have stemmed from anything. Maybe André and Big Boi read those same reviews that I read. Maybe there was some behind-the-scenes tension leading up to the first weekend. Maybe it really was the audience’s fault. Eventually, maybe those answers will come out. We can speculate all summer, throughout these next thirty-something Outkast performances, but the difference was immense.
I went to the second weekend of Coachella, and Outkast didn’t suck. If anything, it was the beginning of a brilliant 40-festival tour. Let’s just consider that first weekend a soft opening.