Saturday (Nov. 3) at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif., thousands dripping in the latest streetwear offerings arrived to take part in the third annual ComplexCon.
The sprawling festival cum exhibition and trade show, which has drawn crowds of upwards of 35,000 since its launch in 2016, has become the blueprint for similar conventions that combine industry-focused panels and educational talks with custom shopping experiences and performances from musicians who have intimately contributed to the cultural intersection of art, style and music.
Between refueling at the First We Feast food village and battling crowds within the labyrinthian bowels of the convention center, guests made their way to the Pigeons & Planes stage, where acts ranging from Boston native Michael Christmas and Trill Sammy, to World’s Fair and Lou the Human, interjected a party spirit into what would otherwise be a long day of sightseeing with their exuberant sets. Later in the day, Fool’s Gold founder and DJ A-Trak performed alongside Leikeli47 and Kari Faux, setting a celebratory tone for an hour-long performance by Canadian rapper and XO affiliate Nav, who ran through hits like “Reckless” and the Metro Boomin’ featured “Perfect Timing.”
But it was California native Vince Staples who stoked the audience’s energy from a low-burning fire to a roaring, mosh-pitting flame. “My name is Vince Staples and I’m from Long Beach,” said the hoodie-bedecked rapper, whose new project, FM!, dropped the day before. Performing in front of a stage design meant to mimic a series of surveillance cameras, Staples launched into “Outside!”, the second single from the project, before crip walking through the Kamaiyah-featured “No Bleedin’,” also from FM! “I put out a project last night called FM!” said Staples, before bringing Jay Rock to the stage to assist with “Don’t Get Chipped,” the menacing CuBeatz- and Kenny Beats-produced single on which the duo collaborated.
“You owe me one more,” Staples playfully told Jay Rock, prompting the Watts-born rapper to launch into his Kendrick-featured smash, “Win.” Staples closed the hour-long set, which also featured hits like “Bagbak” from his critically-acclaimed sophomore album, Big Fish Theory, with a special appearance from Ty Dolla $ign, who lent his signature crooning to “Feels Like Summer.”
Next up was Mississippi-born duo Rae Sremmurd, who closed the night by performing against a cabana-themed backdrop that included palm trees, a thatched umbrella and, oddly, a Brinks security truck. The brothers came to the stage shirtless, toting along a bottle of Hennessy which they shared throughout the performance. “We gotta make a full fucking movie!” Jxmmi told the audience as Swae Lee danced his way through the opening chords of “No Type,” before transitioning into “No Flex Zone” and then “Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.”
Flanked by a projection screen featuring a money theme, the pair then took a few minutes to interact with the crowd, shouting out the college kids, whom they credited for setting future trends.
“We gotta bring out some of the homies,” Swae explained to the screaming crowd, before introducing Tyga, who performed “Taste,” inciting a mosh pit in the center of the venue. The brothers also brought out Ozuna and violinist Miri Ben-Ari, before ending the evening with favorites like “Black Beatles,” “Guatemala” and the French Montana-featured “Unforgettable.”