Tyler, the Creator flaunts famous friends, new music at Agenda Fest
Long Beach, CA — Agenda Show arrived in annual fashion this past weekend, uniting industry-insiders from streetwear and performance gear for two days of flaunting at the Long Beach Convention Center, but this year the SoCal trade-show came with added muscle and extra events, opening its doors publicly on Sat., Jul. 15th for a concert headlined by Tyler, the Creator. At the inaugural Agenda Festival, attendees could shop at or interact with hundreds of booths by skateboarding, surfing and lifestyle brands before hitting the show, which also included sets from Ludacris, Cam’ron and Lil Dicky.
The pop-up mall’s roster of exhibits spanned from buzzy fashion labels like Rip N’ Dip, Staple and The Hundreds all the way to record shops, Rainbow flip-flops and indoor skateparks. Some booths offered souped up shopping opportunities while others set up simple, inoperable photo-ops. At Champions, custom embroidery was available on purchased items and at Herschel, a limited number of festival tote bags were given out. Yet, the flashiest finds were at nationally-acclaimed vintage collectors like Versus ATL — that’s where I saw a Louis Vuitton x Supreme sweater marked at $2,000 and some vintage rap t-shirts with not-so-distant price points.
It’s foolish to shop lavishly at an Odd Future fans’ get-together though, especially if you plan on standing anywhere close to the stage. At Agenda, Tyler, the Creator’s fans flocked to the pit immediately after Lil Dicky’s set ceased, Golf Wang garb acting as a nearly unanimous uniform and foreshadowing their impartialness towards other upcoming acts. While festival organizers seemed intent on curating a truly multifaceted experience, it became progressively apparent throughout the afternoon that Tyler was the main attraction.
Cam’ron came out next, but even with his figurehead-status in hip-hop fashion offering an apparent bridge to the youth, he failed to ignite the crowd of teens and 20-somethings to its full potential, a key sign of the afternoon’s disjointedness. Opening track “Killa Cam” and other dated hits like “Down & Out,” “Oh Boy” and “I Really Need It” earned somewhat emphatic reactions, as did the Diplomats songs “Bout It III” and “Dipset Anthem.” Yet, beyond their hooks, few audience members seemed familiar with the songs’ lyrics, as was the case on deeper cuts “Wet Wipes” and “Get It In Ohio.”
Dressed in baggy designer jeans and a careful combination of black and yellow, from his sneakers to his Simpsons t-shirt and backwards hat, Cam’ron looked like an artifact left over from a former era of hip hop, especially while performing the sexually aggressive “Suck It Or Not,” which fails to translate overall in 2017. He couldn’t truly connect with the audience until he landed on “Hey Ma,” the crowd-favorite singalong from his otherwise macabre discography, and by that time, his set had ended. Next up was Ludacris.
“Where the real Ludacris fans at?” the rapper-turned-actor asked the crowd after opening with “Welcome To Atlanta” and his verse from the gimmicky DJ Khaled hit “All I Do Is Win.” “They probably just 'Fast & Furious fans,'” he told his DJ. “I think we gotta test them out!” Throughout the next 40 minutes, Ludacris tore through a series of hits that spanned across three decades and two genres — pop & hip-hop. “Act A Fool,” “Southern Hospitality,” “Area Codes” and “Roll Out” appeased his oldest fans, while hits like Usher’s “Yeah” and his own “Pimpin’ All Over The World,” “Money Maker,” “How Low” and “My Chick Bad” excited the entire audience.
Ludacris engaged with the crowd endlessly between tracks, his big-screen charisma on full display, and by the end of his set, it was wholly apparent how he’s managed to remain so relevant — hit after hit, smile after smile, he is impossible not to appreciate. After “Move, Bitch” and “Get Back,” two of his rowdiest tracks, Ludacris left the stage for Tyler to claim. Finally, the crowd was ignited.
With his new album Flower Boy (formerly Scum Fuck Flower Boy) due out later this week (it already leaked and had been heard by many), Tyler’s set seemed bound to bring an extra kick. Of course, that would only come after his DJ, Taco, played Drake and Playboi Carti songs off his MacBook for 30 minutes, but finally, Tyler arrived right around 7:00 PM. By this time, his fans had already been warned by security more than once to relax, yet they thrust forth regardless, likely incited by his re-doing of the set’s introduction because he wanted to see more excitement.
Dressed in a peach-colored jumpsuit to match his new signature Converse, Tyler went through a series of songs from his last two albums before arriving at “Who Dat Boy,” one of two lead singles off his upcoming project. The song is teasing but eruptive, and halfway through it, he whispered into the microphone, “I’m gonna take a break,” only to introduce his pal A$AP Rocky onstage to cover for him. The crowd roared as Rocky recited his verse, continuing on stage as Tyler and him went through the A$AP Mob track “Telephone Calls,” but when Rocky said the pair “might need to drop an album or something soon,” grinningly dropping the explosive line on his way off stage, fans absolutely lost it.
Tyler followed this high-point with some mellower melodies, playing “911,” a softer single off his new album, before rapping his verse from Frank Ocean’s recent single “Biking.” Odd Future fans’ favorite mosh pit anthem, “Tamale,” came next, but it was oddly followed by “Mr. Lonely” and “She” — two more softies. Before his breakout hit “Yonkers,” Tyler reminded fans that the song is now a steep six years old, an apparent sign of their cult’s mortality, then finished his set with “I Ain’t Got Time,” a song off his new album, claiming to hope we liked it but also to not really care if we didn’t, still pretending that we hadn’t all already heard the entire album and loved it, like, absolutely loved it.