“Today’s been a very big day for us,” Mel of The Outfit opened up. He here was, shirtless, doing his best 2Pac meets South Dallas impersonation as he was caked in sweat thanks to he and his group mates highly engaging set. He paused before sauntering left and right, “First we made 2DopeBoyz … then we made The Source!” He & Jay Hawk, flattop extraordinary and nasally pitched running bull on wax then went back and forth imitating New York slang, basking in the moment as Dorian, the other third of their clan nodded and waited for his next cue.

The Outfit, TX aren’t superstars but they’re more like flaming hot inside of Houston’s rap ecosystem. Their late Fall release, 2012’s Starships & Rockets bridged their early ideas from 2010’s We Are The Outfit & 2011’s The Ballad Of Percy Shalamar into something that felt like it was born straight from the funk lair of Dungeon Family, 8Ball & MJG and more. It was Dallas, yet it was Houston and in a live setting, it still feels outer worldly.

JayHawk, quiet as a mouse and seen praying after the show is an animated wild man when in rare form, ripping through “Rock & Roll” as if his life, his mother’s life and whoever else closely tied to him are affected. Mel, the group’s leader almost due to how open he is on stage and elsewhere parades around the stage, essentially telling a swollen crowd of over 200+ packed inside Warehouse Live’s “green” room the story of a day in the life of the band.

It contains funk, plenty of heat (the group opened with “106°”) and stories to be told. “Private Dancer” apes everything in the room, swaying and loud, making its presence felt while being as minimal as possible. Dorian’s careful studying of Kanye West among others has made The Outfit, TX’s sound build with every release, hence almost every track on Starships & Rockets stretching past six-seven minutes.

Journey Agents

Journey Agents

The night was carefully planned around the idea that funk was at the epicenter, and the penultimate group before The Outfit, TX in Journey Agents proved that with a well rounded funk fusion complete with a soul singer and some serious odes to Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. Albiet a bit more brazen and touching towards Parliament than swing.

Burgeoning pop star Varrie V combined high energy with a sense of being in the moment during her set, opening her “Whip Me Up”-esque act with background dancers and her auburn hair jaunting back and forth. Hoodstar Chantz made an appearance for the final track as well as Doughbeezy, arguably Houston’s second most omnipresent figure behind Bun B – who would have probably attended had he not had to celebrate a birthday or something.

We overheard that we missed the greatest KDOGG set ever and that 220 Music had improve vastly towards their upcoming Love Me Long Time project but the night belonged to the headliners, the guys championed by MTV and some of the biggest rap media outlets around. Despite mic issues, a record scratching in the back and then some, The Outfit parlayed the actions of life into one fun and throughly engaging hour of Space Age Funk.