Mike Campbell is hanging in the VIP tent.
It wouldn’t be difficult to misconstrue ComplexCon as a music festival. Promotional posters tout the usual font size clash between headliners and tertiary acts, declaring the hierarchy between them and providing an idea of the weekend should ostensibly unfold. What sets the event apart from the Coachella’s and EDCs, where youth gather to drain their non existent savings are the subsequent sections: a squadron of lifestyle and apparel brand logos, and a committee of cultural deities set to host panels, signings, giveaways, and demonstrations throughout the weekend.
Beyond the commerce folded into culture, tucked in the corner away from Supreme-level lines to cop exclusive drops available nowhere else in the world (besides the listings on Grailed starting next week), sits the Pigeons and Planes stage. A simple stage construction armed with LED walls both behind and wrapped around a DJ booth; two large screens suspended on either side; laser lights shooting out over the crowd; smoke canons; and a sound system capable of competing with the howls of tens of thousands of twenty somethings going to battle for sneakers. You have now entered Conventionchella.
Providing a space for both burgeoning and established artists to perform directly to their target demographic, the initial deployment of the stage was curated by Fools Gold Records and served as the residence for their annual traveling block party, Fools Gold Day Off, in lieu of stopping in Los Angeles as it has in recent years.
Saturday’s lineup was peppered with a combination of Fools Gold signees like Falcons and G-Worthy, Soundcloud rap staples Smokepurpp, Ronny J, and Ski Mask The Slump God (who performed in his boxers and proceeded to tell the venue to cut the stage lights as he rapped to a crowd suffering from both a mid-day time slot and the aforementioned allowance massacre in the exhibit halls a football field away), Joe Budden enthusiast Wifisfuneral, Dreezy, Kanye-adjacent designer and sometimes “DJ” (no shade with the quotes—it’s called aesthetics, nerds) Virgil Abloh, a Kyle of the SuperDuper variety, and A$AP Ferg. Rounding out the day was Fools Gold’s Commander-In-Chief, A-Trak.
Not unlike your favorite music festival, the day was not without surprise guest appearances. Travis Barker and Lil Xan came out for Ronny J. Kyle was flanked by his SuperDuper colleague Brick! as they manifested Kid n’ Play for kids born after House Party. Virgil Abloh’s DJ booth was color blocked in Saint Pablo red with black text reading “Instagram this now,” as J. Balvin graced the stage.
Ferg played a guest-less set to arguably the day’s largest crowd, signaling a perfect opportunity to seek fresh air. Subsequently, one would come to realize there is nothing quite like chasing pulled pork nachos with SuperDuperKyle covering “Pursuit of Happiness” while wearing an air-brushed Kid Cudi tee shirt. Because the universe appreciates irony, around the same time Kanye joined the real-life Scotty on stage in Chicago, providing a useful analogy for the entire weekend—there’s probably something better going on, and you’re going to fucking miss it.
Sunday was a different story.
Opening day two, Eli Sostre, Injury Reserve, Yung Pinch, Chloe x Halle, Cozy Boys, and Noname primed the stage for what would draw the largest crowd of the weekend. Curated by the man who the entire event revolved around, Pharrell’s i Am Other #begreat party was an entire Coachella’s worth of famous friends of famous friends taking the stage between rising stars on P’s radar.
Leikeli47 came out with the swag sauce on full drip, masked as always, before Rexx Life Raj, who hails from Berkeley, had his turn. After a couple songs, he thanked the crowd and mumbled through who he was and plugged his upcoming album before attempting to dart off stage left. He was halted by Skateboard P, who urged him to slow down and make sure the crowd understood his name, his Instagram handle, and the name of the album because “[his] shit is dope.” Rexx obliged.
The stakes only got higher. Ty Dolla $ign and Wiz Khalifa emerged, each with a spliff in hand, to join P as they ran through “Stare” while literally smoking L’s to the brain (gang, gang, gang, gang). In his first performance without a wheelchair, 2 Chainz and his dog Trappy hobbled on stage for “Watch Out” and “4AM.” Pharrell threw up another assist to Lil Uzi Vert for “Neon Guts” which naturally rolled into his massive “XO Tour Life.”
The knockout punch came in the form of this generation’s Beatles as Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff appeared before the crowd and blessed the stage with a Cardi-less “Motorsport”/”Bad and Boujee” combo that was worth the price of admission alone. P put their momentum in a momentary choke hold to demand the crowd, who he insisted knew all the lyrics, to sing every word to what he declared his favorite song. The entire building was subsequently drenched in both rain drops and drop tops.
Trippie Red, who also appeared later in the afternoon with D.R.A.M., was the secret guest who occupied the following time slot. Jaden Smith spit during their sets to tease new music from his forthcoming album. Headlining the final day was DJ Khaled who, outside of his Summerjam Funk Flex: The South Beach Edition routine, welcomed G-Eazy and Diddy’s son, Christian “King” Combs, to the stage before handing out Jordans to the crowd like Thanksgiving Turkeys.
As the day came to a close, it became clear the balance between what was being offered and what one could feasibly attain out of the weekend comes down to choices. ComplexCon offered up something for everyone. Looking for some rare sneakers? Gotchu. Desperately seeking a clout exchange in the form of a picture with someone famous and your flawless ‘fit architecture? Pull up. Seeking inspiration and cultural commentary from industry leaders and influencers? Hop in this line over here. Salty you missed out on the four times Migos crashed other people’s shows at Coachella? Say no more.
Just know this: there was only one spot where one could watch a sign language translator flawlessly smash every word to “Bodak Yellow,” and there was no raffle ticket or wrist band required.