Last night, Atlanta’s YAARAB Shriners Temple played host to a show unlike any they’ve had before and likely won’t see again anytime soon. Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth drew hundreds of fans to the venue (kept under wraps until a handful of hours before it started) to catch free performances by Jay Electronica, Yelawolf and Atlanta’s very own Big Boi. Microsoft organized the show in promotion of their new Kin smartphone.
It goes without saying that a Shriners temple may be the last place you’d expect to catch some sweet hip-hop acts. However, the airy hall, tricked out with appropriate stage set-up, lights, screens, free drink stations and spare booth manned by DJ 9th Wonder, underwent a transformation well-suited for the show. As you might imagine at a free show with free booze, dozens of hopefuls were turned away once the venue quickly reached capacity.
Jay Electronica started the night off on the right foot—literally. To security guards’ chagrin, the rapper/producer climbed atop security barriers. The crowd seemed happy to offer helping hands, holding his legs up for balance as his cover-tunes heavy set started. Soon enough, familiar notes from Jon Brion’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack floated through the air. Jay promptly dropped some verses from his “Act 1: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge).”
By the time Alabama-native Yelawolf took the stage, the crowd was more than ready for his seamless, effortless flow. He lunged forward, confronting the crowd with unapologetic tracks “Pop The Trunk,” “I Wish” and “Stage Lights.” Yelawolf’s energy was infectious, prompting a corresponding crowd response. The ceiling, unused to such heavy basslines, rained down flakes of debris onto the room, but nobody seemed to mind.
Finally, hometown hero Big Boi closed the night’s show, looking fly as he repped Atlanta in a red and black fitted Braves cap. Hands were in the air and waving in no time, as OutKast’s less-flamboyant half contentedly owned his stage space. Anyone hoping to hear some OutKast tunes was not left disappointed, as several crowd favorites like “Rosa Parks,” “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Ms. Jackson,” “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” were pulled from the catalogue.
Not usually one for sampling, Big Boi dropped some verses over Queen’s “We Will Rock You” before closing with Purple Ribbon All-Stars’ “Kryptonite (I’m On It)”—an apt ending for this surprise Atlanta show.