By: Gavin Clark –
Andre 3000 and Big Boi, together known as the legendary hip-hop duo Outkast, boasted on their now 13-year-old hit song “Ms. Jackson” that they are “the coolest motherfunkers on the planet”. On July 3rd in front of 15,000+ people who attended day 1 of OVO fest they proved exactly why that statement is as true in 2014 as it was in 2000.
October’s Very Own Festival, or OVO fest, hosted by Toronto’s own Drake has become one of the biggest annual events in hip-hop. Now in its fifth year, organizers changed the event for the first time from a one-day to two-day festival. One of the main reasons for OVO’s popularity is its star-studded special guests including, Kanye West, Eminem, 2 Chainz, Stevie Wonder, TLC, Snoop Dogg, Diddy, Jay-Z, Nas and many more.
The potential of special guest was endless and the crowd knew it. From the moment fans entered the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, their imaginations ran wild as they tried to predict who Drake would summon. However, the first day’s guest appearances didn’t live up to the hype.
Other than Outkast and “Special Guests”, no other acts were announced to be performing for day one. So when DJ Charlie D took to the stage and announced that the first special guest would be appearing shortly, the crowd rose to their feet with anticipation. “Who here likes to party?” Charlie D shouted as Compton, California native YG burst on to the stage, and as crowd roared with approval, OVO Fest had officially begun.
Dressed in a red Blue Jays jersey with Canada scrawled across the back and a black hat that read “Bompton” in old English font, YG began an impressive set featuring songs from his critically acclaimed debut album, My Krazy Life. DJ Mustard produced party anthems like “Left, Right”, “Bickin’ Back Bein’ Bool” and “I Just Wanna Party” entertained the still-arriving crowd and had the girls in the lawn section dancing to the west coast beats.
Closing out the set with his biggest single “Who Do You Love?”, many in the crowd screamed hoping that the festival’s host would emerge to perform his verse, but to no avail. For someone who was playing a show at a small club in Oshawa the weekend previous, YG brought his intimate club mentality to a bigger stage and succeeded as he injected a strong energy into the crowd before Outkast took the stage.
An intermission that ran longer then YG’s set took place while an elaborate stage was being setup. Unknown to the crowd, many of whom were speculating the next guest, the headlining act was about to take the stage. Backed by an eight-piece band, and long-time DJ Cutmaster Swift, Andre 3000 launched into the frantically paced “B.O.B.” to the delight of everyone.
The player and the poet continued performing classic hits together such as “Gasoline Dreams”, “Rosa Parks”, and “Skew It on the Bar-B” before pausing to take a minute to introduce themselves. “We’re not going to talk too much tonight, we’re here to jam”, Andre announced before he and partner Big Boi began the classic “Ms. Jackson”.
The group then split up to perform very different sets. Big Boi with a tremendous raw energy bounced his way through “On It (Kryptonite)”, “GhettoMusick” and “The Way You Move” while his sons Bamboo and Cross joined him on stage to dance. Andre slowed things down with “She lives In My Lap” and “Prototype” before inviting a group of women on stage for fan favourite “Hey Ya”, as they began to “shake it like a polaroid picture”.
After thanking fans for 20 years of support, Outkast launched into their back catalogue, including tracks from 1994 debut album Southernplayalisticcadillacfunkymuzik, which satisfied old and new fans alike. Witnessing two lyrical masters perform “Hootie Hoo”, “Player’s Ball”, “Cumblin’ Erb”, and “Elevators (Me & You)”, which threw you back to an era that didn’t include words like “swag” or auto tune.
Returning to 2003’s “Roses” from Speakerboxxx/The Love Below album, Big Boi got the crowd grooving to his ode to “real down to Mars girls” before Andre told the crowd they were “smelling a bit funky” before dropping “So Fresh, So Clean” from 2000’s Stankonia.
Bun B, the night’s only other surprise guest, took to the stage during the performance of “International Players’ Anthem”, which proved to be a touching moment as the trio dedicated the song to the memory of Pimp C, Bun B’s partner in the group Underground Kingz, who died the same year the track came out.
A mixed reaction swept through the building when Andre asked if they could perform one more song for the audience. Many were certain that this was not actually the end of the show and more special guests would be coming out. “The Whole World” was the show’s final performance and the end of the night.
The pre-show hype for special guests couldn’t help but leave audience members desiring more. Despite that, nothing can be taken away from Outkast’s performance. Whether you are from the “Hootie Hoo” or the “Hey Ya” era, their performance left you feeling satisfied.