It’s hard to breathe. Not that I can’t breathe at the moment, or that I’m getting anxious at being surrounded by what is probably 80,000, or so, people, or that I’m having a panic attack.
I’m fine. I’ve never been better, I think then, and it’s probably not that much of a hyperbole. OutKast has started its Osheaga set, and I can’t breathe, because HOLY CHRIST HOW CAN THIS BE SO GOOD ALREADY THEY HAVEN’T STOPPED IN 20 MINUTES AND I HAVEN’T STOPPED SMILING, WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME???
Yeah, OutKast was at Osheaga and so was I.
Let me be the 20,000th person this year to say that I’ve watched André 3000 and Big Boi, or OutKast, live in concert. It was incredible, marvelous, etc. etc., but here’s the part where you say, “Show us, don’t tell us.” And you’re goddamn right to say it, but I’ll start a different way.
Incredible, marvelous, but mostly this show was a long time coming. And at Osheaga on August 1, OutKast started with B.O.B., because of course they did. For the Osheaga crowd, that’s probably where it all started with this group, withB.O.B. if it isn’t Hey Ya. At least, you know that it’s how it had first started for you. With B.O.B.
You had first started listening to OutKast when you were just 14 or 15 and Stankonia had just been released after the massive success of that song, likely the greatest rap single ever. It had started with that song and soon enough, you had OutKast posters on your wall, posters you found in the Vibe or XXL magazines. Or maybe The Source actually, you don’t really remember. You were young, and the posters are in your old room, and you don’t have the original issues, and anyway this really isn’t all that important.
It had started with B.O.B., yes, and then you had quickly learned to love a song likeGasoline Dreams, also from that Stankonia album. Oddly enough, that’s the song OutKast plays next at Osheaga, and once they finish they go back a few years. Just like you had done when you realized what a talented group this was. You had listened to the albums you had missed when you were just a French kid. And young, too young. You had gone back to ATLiens, the song and the album, and you rapped all the words to all four verses at Osheaga when they play it next, because damnit if you didn’t still remember them. And you just about cry of joy at the end, for André’s second verse when he tells you he only needs words to kill you, because that may be your favourite line ever. It’s the one you had written in your agendas in high school, or on your chemistry lab coat, because what else would you do? Keep it all white? Please.
Then, OutKast moves to Skew it on the Bar-B and as you listen and dance, you secretly hope that Raekwon will somehow come on stage on time for his verse. Of course he doesn’t, but you don’t care because you’ve already forgotten about it and they’ve already moved on to their fifth song, Rosa Parks. That’s the lead single from your favourite album of all time, Aquemini, the one you had to buy multiple copies of from overplay on your old discman when you were 15 or 16. It’s been 15 minutes, or maybe 20, since OutKast’s set started, and you realize that you can’t breathe. (We’re back to this, yes.) They haven’t stopped for more than 4 or 5 seconds—if that much—between songs.
You can’t breathe, because you’ve forgotten to. “Breathe? Pff. It’s ‘Kast, man! Why breathe when you could smile?” Well, it turns out that 1) breathing is important, if only for more smiling to follow, and 2) OutKast themselves need to breathe. So after Rosa Parks, they stop. They acknowledge the crowd.
You finally get a moment to just ponder where you’re at, at Osheaga at Parc Jean-Drapeau for the Friday night headliner. OutKast is playing. Sure, maybe you haven’t listened to the pair quite as much, or as often, recently because life sucks. (And people grow up and change, etc. etc.) But that’s still the rap group you grew up listening to, the best ever, and it’s very obvious to you, with this show, just how much you still love them. You see them both having fun on stage, which is a big deal in the case 3 Stacks, and you are thrilled that their bromanceis and was big enough for them to go back on tour for this year’s (likely final) series of shows.
It’s unmistakably OutKast too, and that’s important. André is his perfect self, wearing a short white wig and a sort of jumpsuit inscribed with the title of this post. Same goes for Big Boi, who’s looking as bombastic as ever with the hat, large beige jacket and brass knuckles on the hands he holds the mic with.
It came close of not even happening, this night did. Not that they almost didn’t show up—you have no idea, and anyway they certainly did—but you almost didn’t go. Seeing how much fun you’re having right now, you’re ashamed to say that you only bought your ticket the night before. You paid $95 , and you had to work until 8 p.m. on Friday, so this ticket was really specifically for the OutKast show. Oh, you did catch the last 15 minutes of Skrillex’s set, but Skrillex isn’t ‘Kast.
See, you weren’t sure if you should go. Since you don’t listen to André 3000 and Big Boi much anymore, maybe it was better to leave them in the past. You still love their music, but 14-year-old you would recoil in horror at knowing that you play Vampire Weekend and Daft Punk before OutKast on your iTunes. So maybe you want to spare your 14-year-old self. Does that make sense? But then you made the decision to go and, after those first five songs, and Hey Ya, and Ghettomusick, and Da Art of Storytellin’ (Part 1), and Aquemini, and Ms. Jackson, and after they had finished with an incredibly dope rendering of the incredibly catchy The Whole World, you knew that it had all been worth it. That’s where you belonged.
Music is funny that way. You can watch a band live play the songs you used to listen to, and you’ll get carried right back to that time. To the morning commute to high school, to the posters in your room, to printing rap lyrics so that you could rap along to your favourite artists, to your pre-game pump up songs for hockey. That’s what happens at Osheaga, but that’s not why we go to concerts. We go, because life is short and we want to take more baths goddamnit. We want to make more memories of the time we listened to ‘Kast. We want to think back on more recent nights, nights like this one, the next time we get hiiiiigh hiiiiigh hiiiiigh hiiiiiiiigh hiiiiiiigh, hiiiiiigh high high high high hiiiiigh as we listen to that SouthernPlayalisticCadillacFunkyMusic, or Hootie Hoo, or Roses.
We want to make new memories. Like this one—I won Friday. How was your Friday night? It might have been plenty good, maybe you had dinner with your folks before meeting your better half for a drink and a romantic evening. Maybe you two even got intimate after dark. All the more power to you, if that’s what happened.
But my Friday night was better. I saw OutKast in concert. And I couldn’t breathe.