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Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Outkast kicks off damp Big Guava music fest

Andre 3000 probably knows his reunion with Outkast has been labeled a “cash grab” by more than one critic.

Perhaps that's why the rapper hit the stage Friday night in Tampa with an oversized price tag dangling from his clothes that read “for sale” on one side, and “sold out” on the other.

Statements of artistic integrity aside, the curtain rose on the stage at the MidFlorida Amphitheatre revealing Andre and Big Boi seated perfectly still at a wooden kitchen table, before the duo jumped into action to deliver a powerfully energetic show.

Performing in Florida for the first time in more than a decade, the set spanned their career in the first four songs, with “BOB,” “Gasoline Dreams,” “ATLiens” and “Skew it on the Bar-B.”

The duo headlined the opening night of the Big Guava Music Festival Friday at the rain soaked Florida State Fairgrounds.

The festival runs through Sunday with four stages of music, carnival thrill rides, food trucks and a craft beer garden.

The crowd trickled in slowly as rain poured on the fairgrounds early Friday afternoon, but by the time the sun started to drop it was obvious weather wasn't going to stop one of the most ambitious music festivals to ever come to Tampa.

A massive crowd of music fans slogged through foot-deep puddles in the grass parking lot, leaving their cars, not knowing if they'd be stuck in the mud when they got back.

According to Woody Graber of Live Nation, the event's sponsor, more than 10,000 were there at the Outkast show.

The mostly young crowd seemed split between two camps: those in swim trunks and tank tops who embraced the rain, dancing and splashing in it, and those in rain boots and coats who rushed to take cover under the roof of the amphitheater.

Enterprising men sold ponchos outside the festival gates (at a hefty markup) and one young man carried a huge umbrella he'd removed from the table in a patio furniture set.

Despite the rain, everything went on as planned. A huge Ferris wheel was lit and visible from Interstate 4 and some brave festivalgoers rode it even as the rain fell steadily. Food trucks served food that ranged from kangaroo on a stick to calzones to a Tampa favorite, Taco Bus.

One of the earlier highlights was epicly loud noise pop duo Sleigh Bells, whose 40-minute set on the main stage was a showcase for the band's electrifying front woman Alexis Krauss. The sound was album quality -- no small feat in the open-air amphitheater -- and Krauss, dressed in frayed denim shorts and a white leather jacket, proved it is possible to dance well to heavy metal if you have the moves, as she tore through hits “Comeback Kid” and “Crown on the Ground,” while riff master Derek Miller absolutely shredded on the guitar.

Unlikely Candidates played earlier on the mostly uncovered Orchard Stage and soaked vocalist Kyle Morris' hair hung down in wet strands that stuck to his face during a great cover of “House of the Rising Sun.”

“I've played shows in the rain before and those people ran,” he told the soaked crowd. “You guys don't care. I love it!”

Live Nation says it plans to make it a yearly event.

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