“This is the kick-off of the tour. This is a sneak peek of what we're doing. It ain't nothing but hit after hit,” Big Boi said. And hit after hit is what Big Boi, CeeLo Green and the rest of the gathered members of Goodie Mob and the Dungeon Family delivered, pulling from their impressive bag of hits and fan favorites. The set was stacked and smartly paced, keeping audience energy rising from a skeptical start (it was cold out) to a banging conclusion.
The free and open-to-all show SXSW Friday night at Auditorium Shores marked the first taste of what's to come from the funky Atlanta hip-hop collective's upcoming tour -- and beyond that. The night ended with CeeLo giving a promise of new music from the entire crew and a shout-out to of-course-absent Andre 3000.
The entire affair was supported by a set of psychedelic visuals, such as tumbling dice, dancing aliens, stripper silhouettes, cartoon images of Big Boi draped in furs, and (my absolute favorite) Big Boi riding a wolf with a lightsaber in hand.
With that one notable absence at the Dungeon Family reunion (no one really thought Andre 3000 would show for this, right?), CeeLo was solely tasked with filling those impossible-to-fill pink polka dot and plaid shoes and bring some weird to the picnic. But if anyone can do weird it's CeeLo, and he beamed in his eccentric alien-cool way through the night. He also served as the group's most successful hype man, coaxing the crowd into raising hands and playing along with the requisite call-and-response bits.
Not to be outdone, Big Boi maintained a vocal pace that feels impossibly relaxed even as he moves at the speed of sound (1,130 feet per second), rarely fumbling a word or leaning on backup to pick up the slack as he catches his breath.
The set opened with “Six Minutes” before Sleepy Brown and Big Boi tackled “So Fresh, So Clean” -- with Sleepy showcasing some smooth footwork that wowed even ever-cool Big Boi. A mid-section packed with half-song, no-Andre medlies included most of the expected Outkast hits pretty well tread on during the Outkast reunion tour a couple years back: “ATLiens,” ‘Skew It on the Bar-B,” “Rosa Parks,” “Ms. Jackson,” and “B.O.B.” Next up were Goodie Mob and Dungeon Family tracks “Get Rich to This,” “Trans DF Express,” and “They Don't Dance No Mo’” (which featured my second-favorite visualization of the night: a Roomba crashing into a retro computer until it's CD drive pops open playing over a sample of Aerosmith's “Dream On”). As the set wound down, “The Whole World” drew the biggest bout of singing along from the crowd. Then CeeLo came out for a pleasant surprise -- a fresh, solo take on “Crazy,” with dramatic choral touches giving it the cinematic feel of a Bond theme song -- before the set’s final combo of “The Way You Move,” “Kryptonite” and “Liberation.”
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