Concert review: Big Boi closes ‘Big Night Out’ with a little help from his friends

Atlanta rap icon Big Boi played the final show of the "Big Night Out" concert series at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 25, 2020.
Atlanta rap icon Big Boi played the final show of the "Big Night Out" concert series at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 25, 2020.

Credit: Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Goodie Mob, Killer Mike, Big Grams and Sleepy Brown joined the show.

Ending the three-day “Big Night Out” concert event with a blowout by Big Boi was entirely appropriate and appropriately Atlanta.

ExplorePhotos from Big Boi's Big Night Out show

About 2,000 fans congregated in fenced-in “pods” in Centennial Olympic Park – still a little soggy from the Saturday night downpour that threatened to derail the Marcus King Trio/Futurebirds sets – dancing, singing and appreciating the career-spanning setlist that Big Boi produced.

Taking the stage with longtime friend, collaborator and Organized Noize staple Sleepy Brown, Big Boi – looking slimmer at every appearance – burst into “Gasoline Dreams,” his flow immediately liquid and effortless.

“We’re gonna let you all feel the vibrations,” he said from the stage following the rat-a-tat-tat lyrical assault of “ATLiens” and engaging in a handshake with Brown.

ExploreBig Boi is ready to have a ‘Big Night Out’ at Centennial Olympic Park concert series

Big Boi wasn’t exaggerating when, after doing his patented side wiggle and step with Brown throughout “So Fresh, So Clean,” he announced, “That’s the appetizer. We’re not gonna talk much because we’ve got a lot of music.”

Sarah Barthel of Phantogram, with Big Boi as part of their Big Grams collaboration. The Atlanta rap icon played the final show of the "Big Night Out" concert series at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 25, 2020.
Sarah Barthel of Phantogram, with Big Boi as part of their Big Grams collaboration. The Atlanta rap icon played the final show of the "Big Night Out" concert series at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 25, 2020.

Credit: Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Backed by DJ Cutmaster Swiff, a guitarist, bassist and a pair of brass players, Big Boi romped through a song lineup that ping-ponged from Outkast classics (“Ms. Jackson,” its lilting chorus spiked by Big’s rapping and light horn accents), his robust solo outings (“Shutterbugg” and “Chocolate”) and new collaborations (“Can’t Sleep,” from his upcoming “Big Sleepover” album with Brown, performed live for the first time).

Attendees already knew that Big Grams – Big Boi’s pairing with trip-hop duo Phantogram (Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter) – would be part of the lineup, which was billed as Big Boi and Friends and also featured opening slots by KP the Great and Kneel 'N Rey.

A trio of songs – the electro-bop “Drum Machine,” the buzzy, bass-grooving “Put it On” and “Fell in the Sun,” highlighted by Barthel’s background vocals – constituted the Big Grams guest slot, which fans seemed to appreciate.

CeeLo Green (left) and Sleepy Brown joined Big Boi for the final show of the "Big Night Out" concert series at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 25, 2020.
CeeLo Green (left) and Sleepy Brown joined Big Boi for the final show of the "Big Night Out" concert series at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 25, 2020.

Credit: Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

But even the response to “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” – its electric surge in no way diminished after 20 years – and Outkast’s debut, “Player’s Ball,” matched the excitement that greeted Goodie Mob, who arrived to the strains of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”

The quartet of CeeLo Green, Big Gipp, Khujo and T-Mo strolled the stage, taking turns in the spotlight as they spouted “Cell Therapy” before being joined by Big Boi for the rap-chant “Black Ice,” their 1998 song that featured Outkast. (A Goodie Mob album featuring Big Boi is due Nov. 13.)

Green hung around for Big Boi’s new song, “We the Ones,” as well as “Intentions,” a pulsing rap-soul hybrid that also includes Brown. In a show of solidarity, Gipp crouched behind Green at the back of the stage, filming the performance on his phone.

ExploreMic Check: Big Boi shares how he’s spending downtime during coronavirus

Big Boi’s final surprise came in the imposing form of Killer Mike, who grinned and showed off some leg moves during “Kill Jill,” he and Big Boi playing off each other like two old pals.

Killer Mike joined Big Boi at the final show of the "Big Night Out" concert series at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 25, 2020.
Killer Mike joined Big Boi at the final show of the "Big Night Out" concert series at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 25, 2020.

Credit: Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mike, who thanked the Dungeon Family for changing his life, looked equally delighted to share the lyrics of the undeniable singalong, “The Whole World.”

As the show wound down after about 90 minutes, Big Boi addressed the coronavirus pandemic in general terms, encouraging the use of vitamins and telling the crowd, “God has not given us a spirit of fear.”

On this night, Big Boi exhibited a performance rooted in gratitude – both for the fans, and from them.

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