Corporate sponsorship, lead by local ski and snowboard company Icelantic, brought Big Boi to Denver last night. The Atlanta rapper, who we'd venture has never set ski/board on a mountain in his life, seems a potentially odd choice for this sort of thing. Not that we're complaining. A pair of strong opening sets from locals Foodchain and Eligh & Scarub (of LA's Living Legends) set the stage for one half of OutKast, and Antwan André Patton did not disappoint the way sold-out crowd.
Food Chain's band really set the tone for the evening as the band of eight opened the show. Concerts at The Ogden typically start on the dot, and at a prompt 9 p.m., Alex Armstrong took his place behind the drums and completely set the party off right.
Food Chain's show is evident that you can't go wrong with live instrumentation at hip-hop concerts and the band backed mash-ups of Pharoahe Monch's "Simon Says," Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jam Rock," a new addition to the covers, along with their original tunes were well received and energetic.
Eligh and Scarub came out swinging. Their voices were so smooth, it literally sounded like we were in an amplified studio. The crowd was rocking out to the vibe and thrill of seeing the Living Legends enjoy themselves on stage while pumping out some crowd favorites.
Those two guys are straight spitters and masters at breath control. There were some seriously die-hard fans in the building and the drinks, lights, and snow boarding footage playing behind the duo only heightened the feel of the moment.
In between each set was a complete swag fest, beer sleeves, goggles... swag. Westword sent two reviewers to the show: Ru Johnson and Kiernan Maletsky, each a huge fan of Big Boi (and neither a skier or rider, incidentally). They came to love OutKast in very different ways, however -- read their introductions to the duo here. The rest of this review will take the form of a post-show conversation between them.
Ru Johnson: So first of all, Big Boi totally killed everything.
Kiernan Maletsky: Yes he did. And I thought the solo stuff actually shone brighter than the OutKast cuts.
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RJ: I agree with that. Maybe because it was such a gaping hole with the 3000 verses. Chico Dusty solo is just as compelling. You know what I noticed? There were a ton of people on crutches at this show. I mentioned it and someone reminded me that it was a snowboarder's show. Ha! Injuries.
KM: Oh man! I hadn't thought of it that way, but I did see a lot of hobbling at this show. A couple wheelchairs, even.
RJ: Right? It makes sense. Wheelchairs! Hip-hop, man.
KM: One dude way down by the stage. That's commitment, because it was freakin' insanity down there.
RJ: Shit, that's devotion. I kicked it in the back with my sniffles and gave a hoarse, but valiant effort at rapping. "Fo Yo Sorrows" was definitely a highlight.
KM: I agree. I'd put "Shine Blockas" and "Shutterbugg" up there too.
RJ: Yes!! Both are so good for crowd participation and two stepping. It's clear that Big Boi loves "Shine Blockas" too. He had the most energy during that joint.
KM: I loved their goofy Gucci impersonations at the end of that track.
RJ: Minus the fucking ice cream cone.
KM: Last I checked Big Boi is psych-ward-free, so hopefully we don't have to worry about that with him.
RJ: Hopefully! I love how much he dances on stage. Like, he's such a gentleman but can't help getting his dance on. "You Ain't No DJ" was nice in that regard. DJ Swiff was killing it on the cuts.
KM: Yeah, that was incredible. Did he have his elbows on the wheels there for a second?
RJ: And maybe also his chin! Real live DJ shit. KM: Do you think ending with "You Ain't No DJ," the one Andre production on the album, was meaningful? Like a shout out to his partner? Or is that just the next single he's pushing?
RJ: Hm. I think that's interesting. "You Ain't No DJ" is indeed the next single, but I think it could also relate to the ubiquitous rumors of OutKast's status as a group. Maybe giving us some hope?
KM: Well, it looks like next up is the Andre solo album, but then they've both said it's back to OutKast. But after how long it took for Chico Dusty to finally come out, I'm not exactly holding my breath.
RJ: Exactly. I also think Big Boi has been rocking this album from here til Kingdom come. And with good reason! There are SO many hits. On the classic tip though, "Ms. Jackson" never gets old.
KM: I was thinking, maybe halfway through the set, how this was like a greatest hits collage. And then I was realizing just how many hits there are to draw from. There is well more than an hour of solid gold in Big Boi's back pocket.
RJ: Right! He did, "Southernplayalistic...." "Ms. Jackson" "Playas Ball," maaan.
KM: "Rosa Parks" was great, too.
RJ: So many of the good ones. It felt so timeless because people knew the words but were just as excited as if it were new material. Oh man, "Rosa Parks" was the best. All the clapping. Ha. I love that kind of shit.
KM: Indeed. Gotta love the crowd participation. Speaking of which: What was your stance on the bad dancing bum rush to the stage?
RJ: Oh, the bad dancing. I was just about to throw to that. There were too many of them on stage, first of all. Secondly, I just.... hate when that sort of thing happens. Ghostface is notorious for wheeling out mediocre dancers to gyrate and sweat all over the place. In a few words: hot mess. Ha! Let me tell you how I really feel.
KM: So I was actually standing on the steps at the side of the stage when all that was going on.
RJ: Please give me the interior dialogue.
KM: Here's how it happened: Maybe four girls, who we assume were preselected by someone, were pulled backstage by an Ogden security dude. I don't know if they were part of the entourage or what. But once they came out that side door, it was just a constant stream of progressively more skankily dressed women pushing their way up the steps. When that got jammed up, they started just vaulting up from the front of the stage. And it's a solid four feet.
RJ: *dies* "progressively more skankily dressed." Hahaha. I saw some vaulting. What about the random man that was on stage too though?
KM: Did you see some of those women?
RJ: I DID see some of those women! Underwear hanging out all over the place! And jeans with no pockets!
KM: Ugh. It was like I was back at the stock show or something.
KM: Just meat trotting around. And the thing is, they did it to themselves.
RJ: And they enjoyed it. "Meat trotting around"....so perfect, I can't even say much else through my laughter. There was a girl popping and locking....
KM: You know, to Big Boi's credit, he stayed completely out of that shit.
RJ: Yes he did! While C-Bone smacked asses with a long white towel, Big Boi largely two stepped around the fray. The hot, steaming disarray.
KM: Big Boi stayed focused on delivering the songs to the crowd in front of him, and man can he deliver. I had never seen him before, and I was struck by how percussive his flow is live. It really lands hard.
RJ: At first, I thought it was the sound system at The Ogden, which is usually good but really, he's the consummate professional. For all the herb smoking he does (of which apparently Denver has made him the most proud) his voice was in top form. KM: Quantity of weed smoked at this show: scale of 1 to 10?
RJ: Good question. I've seen so much more. Wiz Khalifa, for example. You could barely see. At this show though, I'd give it a 7.
RJ: I can dig it. These guys next to me were puffing out of a little bubbler pipe. Ha. Only in Colorado. Favorite moment of the show?
KM: The double-time second verse of "Daddy Fat Sax."
RJ: Ooooh. "I write knockout songs, you spit punchlines for money." YES. He killed it. All smiles and met expectations over here.
KM: I guess I should explain that a bit. He rapped the first verse of "Daddy Fat Sax" normally, and if I'm not mistaken, the beat dropped out entirely and he just ripped through verse two (the best verse on the track) at twice the speed. I can't remember exactly about the beat because I was too blown away by the actual rapping.
RJ: Yup. The beat dropped. It was so great. All hands stayed in the air the entire time. He absolutely commanded that stage.
KM: Incredible. So what about you? Favorite moment of the show?
RJ: I really loved "Shutterbugg." The whole vibe was so perfect. It was a really happy show.
KM: It was. No crappy weather keeping any of those sold-out tickets at home.
RJ: Packed room, die hard fans. Can't beat it.
KM: Did you collect any free shit from the Broboarding dude?
RJ: I was so Bro-d out by that point. I didn't collect anything, but I did almost get hit by falling beer sleeves from the balcony. Ha. Swag.
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KM: I came up with a skier shaped silly band.
RJ: "I went to a Big Boi concert and all I came back with was a skier shaped silly band."
KM: That about sums it up.