ComplexCon is a playground of pop-culture for the internet generation that brings all your favorite online content to life, making the convention a digital dream. As soon as you walk through the doors of the Long Beach Convention Center, you’re bombarded with insane Murakami visuals behind the ComplexCon logo, blasted on a huge LED screen that takes over the whole bandwidth of the lobby doorway. Once you get behind that wall, you enter a world where the coolest of cool comes to collaborate. Everything from exclusive sneakers to your very own sketch made for you by Andre3000 in real-time to a mini party at the Steve Aoki booth and a smoke session at the NeverNotWorking headquarters, it’s safe to say that ComplexCon is here to stay, and a must-attend event if you haven’t already experienced it for yourself.
At times it was a bit overwhelming being that there was over 40,000 people, 200 booths, 15 panel conversations, and 40 different performances. Not to mention that a mob bum-rushed the gates and started a brawl over the N.E.R.D. x Adidas NMDs — but that’s a different story.
With all the conversations, drops, and performances overlapping each other, it was difficult to decide where you wanted to spend your time. We highly recommend getting there early so you don’t miss out on anything, especially if you’re only attending the convention one day. For those attending the whole weekend, you have much more time and planning is a lot smoother. Yet in a lot of cases, you can’t even plan for certain things because there are so many off-the-wall surprises. From a Kendrick Lamar and Kobe Bryant panel appearance at the Nike Air Force 1 booth, to the insane I Am Other party that brought out Kap G, Wiz Khalifa, Jaden Smith, 2 Chainz, Leikeli 47, Lil Uzi Vert, and even Migos — well, no one planned for all of that.
However, the biggest surprise of them all was N.E.R.D.’s listening party for their new album. It totally caught everyone off-guard and left a lot of people confused. At first, the crowd seemed a little irritated because they were expecting a reunion extravaganza full of all their favorite N.E.R.D. classics but it was only a matter of time before the whole crowd was bouncing around with N.E.R.D.’s mob of dancers that controlled the stage as they danced on top of cars in head-to-toe camo. The new album has a long list of superstar features including M.I.A., Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane, Future, Wale, and even Ed Sheeran. The final moments of the listening party were unforgettable as Pharrell got on the mic and performed N.E.R.D.’s new single, “Lemon” three times in a row. The arena went crazy! It felt like everyone could see sounds by all the magnetic energy that was radiating into the atmosphere.
The arena concert the next night featured Young Thug, Gucci Mane, and M.I.A. This was another element that Complex nailed — including a woman in the headliners. With festivals like Rolling Loud and Coachella under attack for failing to properly include women, it is clear that Complex is paying attention to the things that matter. By the time it was M.I.A.’s turn to perform, the crowd was already lit up thanks to Young Thug who put on an amazing set. If you’re a Young Thug fan and you missed his ComplexCon set, just know that we feel really sorry for you. His set was an instant classic. M.I.A. on the other hand… SHEESH. Her set transported the audience to another world, full of dark political messages performed over heavy drums and electric rhythms. Her stage presence aligned with her high energy music as she danced with the crowd and even did an outfit change in time for “Paper Planes.” Gucci Mane performed next and closed the show. As you looked around, you could see the astonishment on everyone’s faces; they couldn’t believe it was Guwop himself! For a lot of people, this was their first time seeing Gucci since he returned home. At one point, it felt like seeing Gucci Mane live would be something that would never happen which is why his ComplexCon performance was the perfect ending to an insane weekend.
ComplexCon should be recognized for executing a concept that bridges the gap between IRL and URL. Not only did they do it but they did it right, by organizing a relatively affordable event that everyone can enjoy. Of course with the exception of the overpriced $15 PBR tall cans that they sell at the convention center. That’s simply something no type of person enjoys. Anyways, considering that general admission tickets range between the $75-$100 area, ComplexCon is relatively affordable which is something worth noting considering all the crazy prices of event tickets these days. For the super shoppers and streetwear aficionados, they can purchase VIP passes for the whole weekend for $400. Which is still only $200 a day or double the the price of a single day admission ticket. For those who maybe don’t care about streetwear or can’t afford to be super shoppers, they can purchase expo passes for only $50. The expo pass still gives you full access to the booths, art, panels, and performances. Considering all the Instagram-able art, the interactive booths, the invaluable lectures from industry legends, and all the hot artists on the Pigeons and Planes stage, a $50 ticket is an absolute STEAL. ComplexCon is more than you bargained for and absolutely lives up to the hype.