Complex took over the Long Beach Convention Center for its first-ever ComplexCon, a two-day festival focused on pop culture, art, music, style and sports that the media company is billing as “our generation’s World Fair.”
Poppy neon signs every 10 feet, curated art installations, unique food including 3D-printed popsicles and coffee with your Selff.ee printed on top, streetwear street style galore, glass filled walls with sneakers and exclusive gear, panels with tons of knowledge from your favorite moguls and industry leaders, and performances by your favorite artists – ComplexCon went above and beyond to create an unforgettable visual and sensory experience.
ComplexCon was an expertly curated convention and festival that brought the world of Complex to life. The shops, exhibitions, stages and zones which were put together by some of the most innovative creators – fully engaged your senses and and inspired thousands – it was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
The minds behind Complex have come together with a Host Committee that includes legendary artist Takashi Murakami, award-winning producer Skrillex and our Cultural Director/Executive Chair Pharrell Williams to imagine a place where creators and curators converge to celebrate and shape our culture.
“Watch, Listen, Shop, Taste, and Experience the future.”
There was a bevy of activities including performances by Snoop Doog, Lolawolf, Kid Cudi, THEY to name a few; panel discussions about “the sneaker of the year,” “the business of weed” and “the future of activism”; plenty of shopping, and brand activations, as well as Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg’s potluck party lounge for hanging out. Yes you read that right – Snoop Dogg x Martha Stewart. Legendary.
High-impact art and design.
I’m newly obsessed with Kamaiyah – what a powerful, bossy and talented woman. Such a great stage presence. You go babe.
THEY styled by me in A.M.
Photographed by Grant Spanier
Jersey Dress: JVL / Silk x Cotton Bandana: A.M.
Talks on music, fashion, films, art, technology and other aspects of pop culture. Speakers throughout the weekend included rapper A$AP Rocky, artist and architect Daniel Arsham, producer DJ Mustard and designer Jon Buscemi.
Daniel Arsham on making a name for yourself: “If you’re not receiving tons of rejection, you’re not really doing enough.”—at “The Collision of Design, Music, and Entertainment” panel.
Mike Will Made-It commented on how it takes a village to make a production by explaining, “A mastermind is a collective of minds.” In discussing the difference between a producer and a beatmaker, Timbaland noted, “A producer is somebody who sees the whole vision.” He even chimed in on his relationship with Jay Z, saying, “What makes Jay Z so great today is he always listens.”
When asked about how they’ve stayed relevant and successful, both Hawk and Cube credited their personal drive and values as setting them apart.
Hawk said of fame, “When I started, skating was not cool, not established. Never did I imagine that I would be a skating pro. I had to keep doing what I knew was right, and success came along with that.” Support systems, artistic integrity, and mentors were all part of the fascinating discussion.
Interview with Marc Ecko via Hollywood Reporter
What led to creating ComplexCon?
As a business we had been reflecting for a few years on doing a tentpole event. We started thinking about, whether it should be a TV show, an award show or a music festival. Then, serendipitously a guy named Aaron Levant, who works at ReedPop, and just started the streetwear trade show Agenda said, “Hey, would you ever do something?” We started ideating and that’s how we came to ComplexCon, which is one part South by Southwest, one part music festival.
You brought on Pharrell as cultural director and host committee chair. How did that come about?
Pharrell is someone that I’ve known for a while and his creative collective, i am OTHER, has actually gotten into film production recently, too. He was one of the first people I shared the idea for ComplexCon with, and he and his camp were really into it. It was him and artist Takashi Murakami I shared it with first actually. They offered to use their networks, ideas, resources and teams to help us execute this. They really helped in getting others on board.
There’s the music component, as well as a fashion part. What are some brands people should look out for?
Everyone from A Bathing Ape, to retailer Union from L.A. to iconic brands Nike, Adidas and Puma. Capsule, which is a highly-curated fashion trade show, is also bringing a whole host of brands, so there will be lots of shopping. Also there’s activations from non-fashion brands. Skrillex has an interactive light and sound activation that’s gorgeous. It’s going to be really unique and different. It’s really built around this spirit of collaboration.
Of all the places to choose, why Long Beach?
Long Beach is a great venue, a great city. For what it offers from the standpoint of being able to scale, the 250,000-square-feet of exhibition floors and arena, it really allows the city to be part of the experience. Perhaps it’ll be more evident in years to come as it grows, God willing. The conventions or festivals that have stayed with me have really woven the towns and the local cultures into them — I think of Austin in relation to SXSW; San Diego in relation to Comic-Con. And that’s why Long Beach. And we did a lot of research — it was not easy, but if you’re playing for the long game, it was Long Beach.
Producer babe @joe_hodges