Massive pop culture convention ComplexCon to return to Long Beach this fall

ComplexCon 2017 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Photo by Asia Morris.

“The enlightenment and empowerment of the individual” will be the theme of this year’s ComplexCon, the massive pop culture convention readying to take over Long Beach for the third consecutive year Nov. 3-4, officials announced this week.

Described as the “world’s largest gathering of visionary pop culture enthusiasts,” the festival attracted an estimated 50,000 attendees last year who were able to experience performances by N*E*R*D*, Gucci Mane, M.I.A., as well as activations and artistic participation from Andre 3000, Virgil Abloh and brands including Puma, New Balance, Nike and more.

The cultural celebration will once again land at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Following last year’s convention, mixed thoughts on the experience were posted on Instagram by internationally known influencer and street wear mogul Bobby Hundreds, a sentiment seemingly shared by many.

“I used to describe ComplexCon like an Agenda meets Comic Con,” Hundreds wrote. “But now, I’d say it’s a massive rave or Disneyland on a blackout day. Rivers of people drifting aimlessly, stupefied.”

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My thoughts on ComplexCon 2017.

A post shared by Bobby Hundreds (@bobbyhundreds) on

Marketed initially as a place to experience the beauty and complexities of the internet in real life, or “IRL”, ComplexCon grew quickly and became more of a chance to snag limited-edition merch to re-sell. It was more of a capitalistic feeding frenzy than perhaps its more wholesome intention: to inspire the thousands of attendees to create and innovate on their own terms.

So it’s questionable whether improvements will have been made to this third iteration, whether organizers listened to the voices of those who felt drained and exhausted after two days of a Black Friday-like experience, instead of inspired to create.

“Fans told us and we listened!” stated the release sent out on Wednesday.

And although “exclusive sneaker drops” was listed as a main selling point this year, listed changes and improvements include scheduling more panels and speakers under the ComplexCon(versations) track, where thought leaders are given a platform to tackle relevant topics and answer questions from the audience.

ComplexCon 2017 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Photo by Asia Morris.

The music stage, which seemed crammed among the vendors last year, will be moved into the larger arena space. ComplexCon will also expand to take over the Rainbow Lagoon outside the convention center for an “elevated” food court.

Famed artist Takashi Murakami, returning as a host this year alongside jack-of-all-creative-trades Pharrell Williams, also designed a new logo for the convention, which seems to address a more worldly meaning compared to the fun and flashy signature flower icons used for the first two years of the event.

Murakami reinterpreted the ensō, an ancient zen symbol representing the cycle of creativity and life, involving chaos, growth and enlightenment, according to the release.

“There is chaos in the world right now but also an incredible movement of young people rising up to create something better and from that energy new ideas and movements are forming ripples through everything in culture,” Murakami stated. “It was important to embrace this at ComplexCon this year.”

Additional information on the panel discussions, performance line ups and programming will be announced in coming weeks, according to the release, while limited pre-sale tickets will become available on Friday at noon through the website here.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.
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