Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stank You Very Much: Outkast Rocks the Adult Swim Party

Outkast

Industry crowds are notoriously tough for performers, but the reunited Outkast gave their all at Adult Swim's annual upfront event on Wednesday night. Taking the stage around 11:15 p.m. at New York's Terminal 5, both Andre 3000 (wearing a large "Price Is Right"-sized price tag that proclaimed "FOR SALE" and "SOLD OUT") and Big Boi performed all their hits -- including the songs you all know and love, "Hey Ya," "The Way You Move," "Miss Jackson," "B.O.B." and "Roses"-- as well as some of their older stuff.

Outkast is only performing festivals this year, and I obviously didn't go to Coachella, so this was a real treat. Adult Swim is where I've had a chance to see Kanye West, Jay-Z and more -- and they manage to score the best acts every year. Bonus: Unlike Kanye, the Outkast guys did not perform inside a tent.

Outkast

As you can see, I got up pretty close to the front, and had a great view of them.

So how did Adult Swim score Outkast? In our TV Guide Magazine special upfronts issue, my colleague Rob Moynihan got more details on how Adult Swim puts together the hottest upfront party every year:

How did the hip cable network land one of this year's hottest touring acts? "We're in Atlanta [where Outkast is from] and plugged into the hip-hop community in a very real and consistent way, so it gave us some degree of credibility," says Jason DeMarco, Adult Swim's VP of on-air/creative director. And they do have a history: Outkast member Andre 3000 (née Andre Benjamin) created the 2006 Cartoon Network series "Class of 3000." "We had an easy in to have the conversation," DeMarco says. "It was a no-brainer." (Adult Swim shares channel space with Cartoon Network, but Turner sells it separately to advertisers.)

Besides West and Outkast, past Adult Swim upfront performers include M.I.A., Jay-Z and T.I. The cable network also eschews a traditional programming presentation — instead offering up short video highlights — and lets the performance take center stage. "Even the best upfronts are pretty businesslike and deadly boring, so if we can break out of that and offer people a fun experience, they'll walk away more interested in Adult Swim than they were before," DeMarco says. "We can still throw an event that gives you some idea of who we are without knocking you over the head with a million statistics and lists of programming. We're just respecting our buyers' intelligence and time."

When it comes to the budget for these music superstars, DeMarco won't divulge specific numbers ("Trust me, everyone gets paid very well"), but says the performers also see the gig as a way to develop programming or musical collaborations with Adult Swim and parent company Turner. That helps when it comes time to negotiate performance fees with party performers. "They realize that we're serious," DeMarco says. "It's not just work for hire."

Here are more shots from the Outkast show:

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Outkast

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