ACL Festival 2011
ACL in review

ACL in review: Big Boi rocks a heat-soaked—but still down to dance—festival crowd

ACL in review: Big Boi rocks a heat-soaked—but still down to dance—festival crowd

Austin Photo Set: Dan Solomon_ACL 2011_Big Boi_September 2011_2
Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo Set: Dan Solomon_ACL 2011_Big Boi_September 2011_1
Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo Set: Dan Solomon_ACL 2011_Big Boi_September 2011_4
Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo Set: Dan Solomon_ACL 2011_Big Boi_September 2011_3
Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo Set: Dan Solomon_ACL 2011_Big Boi_September 2011_2
Austin Photo Set: Dan Solomon_ACL 2011_Big Boi_September 2011_1
Austin Photo Set: Dan Solomon_ACL 2011_Big Boi_September 2011_4
Austin Photo Set: Dan Solomon_ACL 2011_Big Boi_September 2011_3

Big Boi—the less reclusive half of Outkast—is no stranger to Austin stages. He's showed up at the Mohawk, East Side Drive-In and 40 Acres Fest recently. But he really brought it at ACL, emerging as the frontman of an explosive seven-piece band, rocking an Atlanta Braves ballcap, camo cargo shorts and a thick gold chain.

In other words, Big Boi came out determined to show a stylishly commanding presence, and the speed with which the crowd threw their hands in the air and waved 'em like they just didn't care was proof that he'd succeeded.

By the time Big Boi delivered the first of the set's Outkast hits—2001's "So Fresh, So Clean,"—he had even the most hip-hop averse listener in the palm of his hand. It's hard to argue with a pair of trumpets, two drummers, guitar, drums and a DJ manning a pair of turntables, you know?

Live hip hop, especially of the "this is the best party you've ever been to" variety (which Big Boi practices) thrives on audience interaction, and the emcee fulfilled his obligations to receive it. He took requests and delivered manic, high energy hits like "GhettoMusick" and "Bombs Over Baghdad" like he was determined to front ACL's best rock band, too.

In fact, that energy is what really made Big Boi's set special: after an afternoon that steadily heated up (despite a pleasant early rain), and which featured performances from more contemplative acts like Ray LaMontagne, James Blake and Brandi Carlisle, it was great to hear somebody take the stage with an overwhelming amount of energy. Big Boi more than just rapped—he invited dancers on stage (if they were prepared "to get crunk"), he asked the audience to pick his next song and he mined his exceptionally deep catalog of both solo and Outkast hits. If he brings this sort of performance to the stage every time he's in Austin, he can play here twice a week for the next year and we'll be there every time.