LUDACRIS, PIONEER PARK, Thursday, Aug. 15, 7 p.m., $5
The first time I saw Ludacris, i was instantly hooked. He was on the road supporting his hit debut album, Back for the First Time, and opening for Outkast at the E Center (now Maverik Center) in the spring of 2001. All I knew of Ludacris was his "What's Your Fantasy" track, then all over radio and MTV, and was at the show to review Outkast, paying little mind to the open before hand. With just a DJ backing him up, and a sold-out arena of 10,000 fans anxious for the headliner, Ludacris came out and just killed it. He stalked the stage like a savvy veteran, got the crowd involved from the get-go, and ended his opening set clearly demonstrating he wouldn't be opening for long. A rapid-fire lyrical flow, ridiculously catchy hooks and samples and a distinct Southern-fried persona made Ludacris a superstar from Day One. Since that show, I've seem him rule venues ranging from clubs in Park City to a field of tens of thousands at New Orleans' Jazz Fest, and he has not disappointed. His stream of new music has been more sporadic in recent years as he's gotten into acting, but you can expect a great a show live full of old favorites and hopefully some new music as well. Two-9 opens the show.