We’ve just about hit the halfway mark of Outkast’s much-hyped reunion tour, and so far the pair’s festival appearances have been underwhelming. From their first show at Coachella — when the pair barely even glanced at each other and only occasionally turned their backs away from the audience — to opening for the Rolling Stones in Denmark earlier this month, Big Boi and André 3000 have essentially delivered the same uninspiring set nearly 20 times in a row. But it's not too late! There's still half a tour to go, and Outkast can turn this ship around. Here are some quick ways to fix this reunion. (Please print out and give to André.)
1. Rearrange the set list.
The problem that faces any artist headlining a festival is that many of the fans in the audience won’t know anything beyond the hits. “B.O.B.” is a wise start, with a chorus memorable enough for even the drunkest non-fans to pick up quickly, but Outkast’s set stalls from there. Do you want people to leave halfway through the set? Because that's what's going to happen if you play "Hey Ya" there, and I think you both know that. Then there's the pacing issue: André 3000 disappears for a three-song solo set by Big Boi, and vice versa, smack in the middle of the show. Where are you guys going? What's happening backstage? Don't leave us in the dark. Sit and stay a while. Oh, and in case you thought your festival was unique, the Outkast boys have been playing the exact same set list at each and every performance, eliminating the crucial element of surprise in the most boring of ways.
2. Play nice, guys.
It has become increasingly clear with each festival appearance that André 3000 and Big Boi, while they may respect each other and the work they've done together, do not care to be onstage together. That’s obvious to anyone with a set of eyes and ears. Watch the video: André can barely even stand next to Big Boi for longer than five seconds, and he won't look at him, either. This is so easy to solve: Hire an acting coach and learn how to fake-emote, then sidle up next to each other at your next show, throw your arms around the other's shoulders, and crack a smile. Boom: instant chemistry! Maybe André could even point some finger-guns at Big Boi when he's doing a solo verse. It's the little stuff that counts, 'Dre.
3. Cool it with the fashion attitude.
There is self-awareness, and then there is being a jackass.Tossing a big red tag onto your suit that reads “SOLD OUT” is winking in a way that makes hardworking fans, those who had to shill out hundreds of dollars just to see you toss your disdain for the concerts back in their faces, justifiably annoyed at your behavior. “Art or fart?” read one of André 3000's jumpsuits. I say fart.
4. Talk to your audience a little bit.
Neither Andre nor Big Boi speaks to the audience, except for casual introductory greetings and the occasional (scripted) aside that they use at every single show. André isn't one for words — he hasn't given a single interview about the group’s reunion, for example — but if there were ever a time to connect with the audience, it’s right now. Go off script! Don't introduce "Ms. Jackson" the same way every single night. Give us something that we didn't already see on YouTube.
5. Announce your guests, please.
Maybe this sounds like a silly and obvious move to most people, but it’s something Outkast has failed to do repeatedly. So far, the duo has brought Killer Mike, Sleepy Brown, and Future onstage with them — and introduced basically no one. Maybe Big Boi whispered the guests’ names quietly as he fluttered the microphone away from his face, but when I went to the show, it took me a full 30 seconds to figure out who each guest was. Can you spot Janelle Monae in this video? If so, it's no thanks to André!
6. Warm up before the show.
I don’t want to insinuate that André 3000 doesn't do vocal runs and drink tea with honey before every show, but during “Roses,” the track that requires the most sing-rapping from the performer, Three Stacks has been ... pitchy. That’s a no-no. Human error is understandable, and perfection isn't something that needs to pervade every performance, but we paid hundreds of dollars. Try to sound good at least some of the time?