What I Learned From and What I Really Think About ComplexCon
First of all, before I get into it, let me start off by saying that this was one of the best weekends of my life! For the simple fact that I'm a huge fan of Complex and their content. So seeing certain video segments live was the highlight of my experience there [i.e. Hot Ones and Complex Con(versations)].
Now, I knew beforehand that there was going to be way too much going on at ComplexCon (which there was) for it to be even remotely possible that I get my hands in everything (which I didn't). When I really realized this was when I went to pick up my tickets at will-call a day early and saw people ready to camp overnight. These, I came to find, are the beasts that are there solely to get their hands on exclusive drops (aka sneakers) and are willing to wait hours in lines all day.
I avoided that exclusive drop, limited quantity, crazy resell value shopping experience at ComplexCon because for one, I knew that if I partook I'd be missing out on other things that I find more enjoyable going on (performances, panels, etc.). And secondly, it was just crazy! Apparently, fights broke out and security was all hands on deck. I'll totally pass on this. Even though I would've loved to have gotten my hands on some merch that had dope collaborations behind them, shopping consumes your time there! So I was willing to sacrifice experiencing that part of the convention.
The only thing I bought myself was a $40 ATCQ t-shirt from the ATCQ shop because as I was headed to the arena at the end of the day to catch N.E.R.D's performance, I noticed Consequence spitting on the mic in there. Then I realized Ali was right next to him! So - obviously - I had to get them to sign a shirt for me.
Bobby Hundreds went on to share in an Instagram post, "I used to describe ComplexCon like an Agenda meets Comic Con. But now, I'd say it's a massive rave or Disneyland on a blackout day." Given... his shop was right next to Nike's, so he had front row seats to the "madness" all day.
To continue on with the fact that there was too much going on, I didn't even get the chance to see any of the day performances going on at the Pigeons and Planes stage! I really wanted to see Injury Reserve, NoName, Eli Sostre, A$AP Ferg, and others.
On Saturday, I really spent a lot of time being curious and figuring out the whole layout and scheme of things. Browsing all the pop-up shops, asking people what they were in line for, bumping into huge inspirations of mine (like Bobby in the picture above), getting lost, and making my way to a couple panels. I attended Hot Ones and caught the Hype East panel.
I actually really enjoyed just walking around and checking everything out. I think this is what everyones first day will look like when it's their first time at ComplexCon.
N.E.R.D was super dope. Pharrell being Pharrell, they took the approach of their performance being a listening party. So we got to listen to N.E.R.D's full upcoming album, track by track, accompanied with a full on artistic, colorful performance that night.
We weren't able to sing along to any of the songs, given that nobody has heard them yet, so the audience was definitely just quietly soaking it all in.
I'd describe N.E.R.D's upcoming album as... bouncy, heavy bass... if you've heard the new single with Rihanna that was just released then that definitely gives you a feel for the whole project. Some features in the album include Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Ed Sheeran, and M.I.A.
On Sunday, I spent just as much time waiting and rushing as I did partaking in what I was waiting and rushing for. Sunday had a better panel line-up than Saturday (in my opinion), so all I did was just that.
I literally just attended three panels, made sure I made time somewhere in-between to eat lunch (which I waited over an hour in line for), and caught M.I.A and Gucci Mane's performances at the end of the night. Since I had more of an agenda for myself and list of things to definitely attend on Sunday, it felt like it came and went in a blink of an eye compared to Saturday.
Sunday in general at ComplexCon was running thirty minutes to an hour late all day. So it made the waiting feel even longer. Well... because it was. But all the panels were definitely worth the wait. Leading Ladies made me tear up given the context of the conversation, The Art of Collab was dope to sit in to witness Jeff Staple moderate a panel (I'm a fan), and The Rap Generation Gap Debate was interesting. Rick Ross was lowkey hilarious in that one. So was Superduperkyle.
I know I'm may be making it sound like ComplexCon was really hectic, lots of people, lots of waiting and too much going on (because it was) but it was still a really great experience. All the content was really dope.
If you're there to shop, know that it's going to consume your whole time there. If you're there for panels, pick your top three each day and know that's all you'll get to do. If you're there for the performances, you'll be at the Pigeons and Planes stage all day then making your way to the arena at the end of the night. If it's your first time there, know you'll probably spend most of your first day walking around and taking it all in (if you're curious).
I made sure to accept the fact that I wouldn't be able to check out everything I wanted to so that I didn't get major fomo.
VIP is worth getting if you're a sneakerhead and are dying to get in line at Nike. VIP gets in an hour earlier than GA at the beginning of the day, so it actually makes a huge difference for that. You also get first seats at all the panels (which made me consider getting VIP for next time) and cuts in line at certain food trucks.
All this being said, I'd totally attend ComplexCon again. Now that I've conquered my first time there, I think I'll be saving a lot of time next time because I won't be as lost or curious. I'll understand the general layout and pace of the convention.
I'll also probably make it a point to specifically do some actual coverage while I'm there by conducting interviews and taking better pictures. Attending ComplexCon for work will be a whole other beast in itself and I'm positive will consume all my time.
As an event planner myself, I learned a lot about "hypebeast" attendees, the strengths and weaknesses of having so many exclusive drops, how creative brands can get with each other and with their own booth via pop-up shop. I learned and soaked up a lot of knowledge, as well as reaffirmed how much I love insightful conversation in attending the panels. I'd imagine myself up on the stage both as a moderator and as a panelist and I'd start tearing up.
Like I mentioned earlier in the post, it was one of the best weekends of my life. Let alone a birthday weekend.
I'm looking forward to the next ComplexCon (will probably honestly get VIP) and am also looking forward to the next big event of this scale that I experience.