OUTKAST at the Docks, July 22. Tickets: $65-$80. Attendance: 14,000. Rating: NNNNN
moby might be selling his area:One festival as a glorious union of musical tribes bringing together hiphop, rock and electronic music under a couple of big roofs. Technically, that's true, but ask anyone who spent three hours waiting in line Sunday at the Docks to tell you how it all worked out.What was billed as two separate but easily accessible stages where folks could see a bit of the Roots on the main stage and then slip into the electronic tent to catch some of Carl Cox's two-hour set was instead a fiasco virtually from the get-go.
The Roots never showed up, and there seemed to be as many people waiting in line to get into the dance room as the space itself held. Clubbers who'd splashed out largely to hear DJs like Kevin Saunderson and Paul Oakenfold were instead stuck outside on the hot asphalt or in the fenced-in beer compound. The final insult was that the end of the electronic line was directly in front of the rock stage, sheer torture for those hoping to escape Incubus's appalling rap rock.
All of this only made the already remarkable OutKast sound even better. The tripped-out Atlanta hiphop crew touched down like a psychedelic Mothership landing, complete with purple lights, a backup singer in a knee-length fur coat and lead MC Andre 3000 in furry pink hip waders and a platinum wig.
Joined by fellow MC Big Boi, a total of three backup singers, a guitarist and a bassist, Andre and OutKast probably weren't worth $80, but they played the saviour nonetheless. The freaky mob stormed through cuts from Stankonia, ATLiens and Aquemeni with astonishing precision, cracking up the crowd by talking in phony British accents and babbling about elevators and Cadillacs but also transforming the opening of Humble Mumble into a hiphop calypso before unleashing a clobbering beat.
Sing-alongs for So Fresh, So Clean and Ms. Jackson got arms waving, but it was OutKast's final assault that proved why they should be the festival headliners and also beat Moby at his own lame attempt to bring different styles of music together.
After hilariously referring to their sound as "hiphop on crack," Andre 3000 launched into an absurd, triple-time version of Bombs Over Baghdad that was closer to machine gun techno than southern hiphop. The club kids frustrated at missing Oakenfold's set started kung-fu dancing, and when it was done, OutKast got in line and did the soul train out the back door.
Rescue mission accomplished. Moby should be on his knees in praise.