Friday night, the headliners identified Voodoo's ideal festgoer, who has very broad tastes.
The story Friday at Voodoo wasn’t so much OutKast as OutKast’s audience, which despite a chilling wind was at least as large if not larger than those that showed for Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam last year. They also seemed to have more fun, dancing for much of the show. Admittedly, OutKast’s music is more conducive to a party than the purposeful Eddie Vedder and Trent Reznor. OutKast also drew a much younger audience that was more mixed along racial and gender lines. Voodoo’s main stage sometimes seems to be fighting the tide of contemporary music, but OutKast was far more in line, despite being a reunion show.
It took a few songs for the band and sound to find its groove, but by the third song, “ATLens,” the show kicked in. Big Boi was clearly having fun, shouting “Trick or treat” throughout the night. Andre 3000 was a more finicky figure, having enough fun, but when he kept asking the crowd if it was having fun, it wasn’t clear if he was asking the question of himself or if he wasn’t sure what to say. In a platinum wig, shades, and a black jumpsuit that read “I Don’t Know What Else To Say” with a price tag dangling off it marked “Sold Out.” He’d spoken to The New York Times about the challenge he had reconnecting to OutKast for the reunion tour, so it was tempting to put together that attitude and the visual statement.
The set was more generous than it had to be—probably more so than some battling the wind wanted. They covered the entirety of the OutKast catalog, which was a pleasant reminder of what a good, weird, funk band they were. The clarity of their biggest songs obscures that at times, and the duo dotted them throughout the show. “Ms. Jackson” came early, The Love Below/Speakerboxx highlights including “Hey Ya” came during solo sections in the middle of the set, and when they got to “Roses” and “So Fresh, So Clean” late in the show, a cooling crowd decided to listen on the way out.
There are no more OutKast shows on the band’s schedule, and Andre’s interview with The New York Times suggested that this was likely the last call. He teased an announcement a few times, saying, “Unfortunately,” then letting it hang pregnantly until he told people it was time to go. The set ended with a joyous, exuberant “The Whole World,” and that was it. No door was closed, but it was hard to watch Andre and think it’ll happen again any time soon.
It’s easy to see a festival lineup as a series of discreet shows dotted around a grid until you’re standing there in the moment. During Slayer, I looked at the people there waiting for OutKast and thought about what Voodoo was actually asking of its audience, and the degree to which it declared in effect who its ideal fester is. The shows back to back were a grinding of gears—the exhibit of impressive power from Slayer followed by the funk of OutKast. Slayer’s haunted seriousness next to OutKast’s playfulness.
The common element is that both were impressive. Metal sounds great outdoors as it rolls over people like a force of nature. Slayer was a great choice for that slot as their songs don’t all sound the same, despite their intensity. Singer Tom Araya had the presence of a Latin Odin onstage, particularly with the wind blowing his long, graying hair. His grayness and guitarist Kerry King’s baldness were nice, grounding visuals that gave a comprehensible humanity to balance the rivers of blood flowing from pentagrams displayed on the rear screen during the set.
Meanwhile, at Le Plur ...