Shortly after music guru and artist Pharrell Williams announced his decision to head Complex Magazine’s inaugural two-day ComplexCon, speculation as to who he would bring was high. After all, he promised it would be “the hottest ticket of the year.”
Mr. Williams has lived up to his promise: headlining night one will Skrillex, Kid Cudi, Travis Scott and Virgil Abloh while night two will feature none other than Yeezy himself, Kanye West. This marks Kanye’s first appearance in Long Beach since 2008, when he performed at the former Vault 350 venue.
The musicians join a festival that will also bring shopping, art exhibits, food and discussion panels to none other than DTLB come November 5 and 6.
Music lovers won’t be limited to just the performances themselves either. Mr. Williams has invited influencers and producers that are “shaping the direction of the music we love” to reflect on what’s next. From round-table conversations to listening sessions and music-centric art, ComplexCon will cater to audiophiles across the region—up to and including the send-off performance at the end of the event from Mr. West.
Complex, a cultural publication founded in 2002 by urban fashion designer Marc Ecko and one that brings some 57 million unique visitors monthly on its website, is the go-to source for urban culture and high art. Its unique blend of pop and high-brow has drawn a loyal legion of followers—including Pharrell and famed contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, who joins Pharrell on the committee overseeing ComplexCon.
“When Marc Ecko approached me about being on the host committee, I met with him in their office on 50th Street and felt firsthand the good vibe and untamed, youthful energy they possess,” Murakami stated. “It was that spirit that led me to participate in the project. It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope it will turn into something crazy.”
Ecko and crew aren’t light in their description of the event: from “the first World’s Fair for this generation” to “a mix of Art Basel and Bonnaroo,” Ecko assures his dedicated following that ComplexCon will live up to (and hopefully supersede) what the brand has already created through print and publication. In fact, the fashion guru said that every 200,000+ square feet of the Convention Center’s space will be used to house everything from a “foodie Disneyland” to shops, exhibitions, stages and zones, transforming “the space into an art installation unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”
“It’s really about bringing our brand to life,” Ecko told Variety. “We really wanted to make something different that wasn’t just another music festival.”
With some 15,000 attendees expected to invade DTLB, reporters at Complex’s New York press conference were admittedly curious about the choice of Long Beach.
“[W]e were looking for a location where the city itself becomes a backdrop to the event,” Ecko said. Pair this with the “film-festival-like experiences” that the Long Beach Convention Center provides, it was a win-win pairing.
As for Pharrell’s contributions, he’ll be both in front of and behind the scenes.
“I’m inspired by a myriad of different events I’ve had the fortune of being a part of, whether they’ve focused on art, design, music, food or science,” Pharrell stated. “When [my brand] i am OTHER connected with Marc Ecko and the Complex team, we were instantly aligned; we wanted to combine a little bit of all these elements and create a unique, new initiative.”