“PANDA, PANDA, PANDA…”
Discovering this free musical experience was a last minute thing for sure. My original thoughts were leaning towards seeing The Roots again at Novo (formerly Club Nokia) because I always love to be apart of the BET Experience. This is a music experience that takes over the heart of downtown LA every year at the end of June, for a few days leading up to BET’s yearly award show. Two years ago, I saw an amazing show with The Roots performing with all their 90s hip hop friends (Warren G, Redman, and Method Man). But I always like to switch up my adventures. So, I read through their robust schedule of events for the 3-day shindig.
That’s when I found a whole list of showcases & panels at The LA Convention Center. You could’ve spent the day there. They had new & buzzworthy acts set up from noon to midnight, DJ sets, Fashion shows, business talks, etc. It was every convention rolled into one. On top of all the bass bumping, they teamed up with Sneaker Con to bring hardcore sneakerheads together in the back corner of Hall A. That was my first objective once I passed through the dirty security gates.
Photography Side Note: Had to walk back to my car to drop off my Professional Nikon. It was a prohibited item. Yuck. So, all my shots inside the Convention Center were on my long lens, powerful Nikon S9500.
SNEAKER CON 2016
“What was ‘Sneaker Con’?”, I pondered to myself. Never cross paths with anything so cool. My youthful inquisitive nature started to creep back into my head “Wonder what kind of Jumpmans they’ll have? … Remember, you at all the originals when you played Basketball!” And they had all the Jordans. Generation after Generation. Wrapped. Boxed. Loose. In bins.
This was the most chaotic & dirty Con I had ever experience. It reminded me of my kid days at payless shoes. Same smell. The sneaker addicts were purchasing, designing, and trading their extravagant collections at a hurried pace… and this was at 6 P.M.! Could imagine the horde at the start of the day. A friend back in High School waited for more than 24 hours for Jordans outside Foot Locker with his brother on multiple occasions. All these patrons shared my friend’s passion.
They didn’t seem to have my size (15 ICYWW). I have to buy my shoes on the internet. Taking photos of these overpriced pieces of nostalgia was enough for me. Because they will never wear out.
BETX FAN FEST
Next door to Sneaker Con was the BETX Fan Fest Stage in Hall B. Music from Noon to 9PM. Well, actually beyond that. The main acts I was there to see (Desiigner, OT Genesis, etc.) was an hour behind schedule. Don’t believe the show ended until at 11 P.M. I left after Desiigner because I saw OT Genesis at SXSW in 2015. I can only fall in love with Coco once. Plus, Desiigner’s multiple poor performances of “Panda” was a huge disappointment. He didn’t even rap. His mic sounded off as the backing track was overpowering his quiet vocals. Could’ve stayed in my car & listened to “FSMH Pt II” on repeat.
The truly remarkable occurrence happened by chance as I waiting for, who I thought was going to AKA, and ended up being Anderson .Paak! I kept seeing his face on the screen, but it didn’t connect until Anderson strutted on stage. Cue my mini freakout!!! Well, not so mini. This was a dream appearance because I was going to see him at the Ace Hotel. But fate stepped in..
Anderson .Paak’s mini unannounced show here at BETX was fantastic. Pity the crowd was not feeling his style at all. I mean… you could’ve heard crickets for everyone except for Desiigner- who got the biggest response from crowd. “Panda” is a hot song now (thanks Kanye) but Anderson Paak is the Kendrick Lamar of three years from now. Towards the end of his set the loudmouth couple behind me shout it out: “Who the f— is this guy?” Close mindedness is a major turnoff for me. Open your ears, you stupid ****!
The crowd’s stone cold responses to the other openers (AKA & Dreezy) felt like I was at the Apollo after a long day. Good thing this horde didn’t have any fruit to throw. Might have started a riot. Pity, Paak-AKA-Dreezy all tried their best to connect with the crowd who definitely didn’t want see them.
Desiigner, the man every fan wanted to see, was horrible. Milli Vanilli lip sync better than this guy. Despite dropping his mixtape a day later, all he played was “Panda” & his Kanye West-TLOP featured appearances. Which, if you’ve listened to, really is just “Panda” remixed. Hey… the fans wanted it. Wanted it bad. XXL should really revoke their Freshman Class honor. Desiigner doesn’t deserve it. His hype man did more work than Sidney. Pity. He should really stay in the studio. Can’t wait for the hype train to derail.
Then I left. The clock struck 10pm and they still had like 3 more performers. This showcase probably ended after the main Staples Center show did. I was exhausted. The extra steps back to my car sapped whatever energy I had conserved in the early part of the day. Saw the artists I wanted to see (with a few bonuses). Can’t complain. Especially for free. Seeing a $250* artist like Anderson .Paak or $150* Desiigner is the right way to do things. Spent $24 bucks during my entire experience. Not half bad, huh?
* = Scalping Price
Because my DSLR got denied, used my Nikon Powershot S9000 was my weapon of choice. The convention center was quite dark overall. So, had to drop the ISO to make the shutter fire fast. My position for all the artists were in the middle. Got pushed far-far stage left for Desiigner which wasn’t ideal. The lights were manly focused on center stage & he jumped around like a jumping bean on crack.
Quite proud of all my Anderson .Paak shots. Check them out below!
Categories: Night Out