Last night New York's Terminal 5 hosted the Winter Elixir, an event organized by the site BroBible.com (tagline: "Every bro has a story") featuring Big Boi and D.J. sets from LA Riots and Chromeo's Dave 1. It wasn't the ideal audience for Outkast's active half: A distinct majority was made up of what looked like college freshmen back for Christmas break, who were alternately making sure their ripped-up leggings were still strategically placed and figuring out whose parents were out of town in order to facilitate continued underage debauchery. We tried to do the math: So that means they were how old when Outkast was the biggest band in America?
This is a relevant question: For reasons explicated here, Big Boi is not one of those dudes who goes solo and feels strange about playing the old stuff. But our concern was that even those giant Outkast jams wouldn't be enough to sway the addled kids — some crowd-surfing, others attempting a mosh pit, because, you know, why not — over to his side. That worry passed quickly. Swiftly, and with great purpose, Big Boi worked through his half of a pretty expansive greatest-hits catalogue (with the appropriate music videos playing along on a giant screen) to an increased share of the crowd's attention span. And once the chorus to “Ms. Jackson” hit, everyone was in his pocket for good.
Also helpful: engaging in harmless banter about getting fucked up. “If you got 21 grams on you, make some noise!.” Big Boi and the hypeman yelled at one point, to moderate cheers. They followed that up with the same request, first with “21 lines of cocaine” and then “21 pills of ecstasy” swapped in — and the crowd goes wild. “I don't condone drug use,” Big Boi explains immediately after that spirited exchange. “But if you do get high, get high to this.” Then the D.J. dropped epic Sir Lucious Left Foot cut “Fo Yo Sorrows,” and we took note of Big's fantastic song-introduction skills. Appropriately, the night ended with a line of gawky teenage girls, moving enthusiastically in front of the D.J. “I need pretty girls to the muthafuckin' stage,” the hypeman had explained. “Where security? This is the set up for the after-party.”