The Outfit, Texas continue a strong tradition by Fun Fun Fun Fest: approaching rap music with a four-pronged approach to booking the Blue Stage: national hulks, legends, overlooked weirdos, and locally sourced prospects. But beyond checking the latter box, the three-strong Dallas crew straight-up dazzled Sunday.
“The birds are chirping,” rapper Mel said of the achingly sunny afternoon. “We got hot dogs on the grill for you, make sure to grab one of them.”
The band works hard to present a blue-collar world of living for the weekend and barbecuing while the Cowboys play. (“We’re gonna win the Super Bowl, we ain’t tripping,” Mel said onstage of America’s floundering team.)
And by presenting voices as relatable performers with simple vices, The Outfit, Texas’s bursts of nerdy creativity remain subtle. But, yeah, these guys are known to pen blog posts about their hometown’s budding rap community.
And that’s how one gets Lil Jon-popularized “yeahs” and two-word choruses breaking up strands of gorgeously moody, sonar-blip beats. The kind of tracks laced with humming bass, rain-drop snares, and cinematic dread.
“Roll that beautiful B-footage,” Mel said, shirtless in a tan fishing vest, as panoramic views of downtown Dallas blasted on-screen.
The guy is a natural conversationalist with the heart of a class clown: Directing traffic with banter about endangered Costa Rican turtles, police brutality, and Donald Trump. His best call-and-response trick?
“Austin, if you love your mama say ‘yay, yay.'”
Relatable asides peppered on for local flavor? Check: “Them boys the East Side call me Big Daddy, but that’s a story for another day.”
His associate rappers, JayHawk and Damien, also boasted familiar, southern, dog-pound commercial stylings. Damien rocked a Metallica T-shirt, Crown Royal cap, and pushed play on the MacBook. JayHawk wore a Dickies one-piece and looked, as Mel said, “like he’s working on your daddy’s ’72 Impala.”
Thunderous rap built with a distinct sense of both place and Internet-age connectivity is tricky to ferment. Unless your one the state’s most electric cliques.