There are plenty of things I didn’t expect to happen in 2017. I didn’t expect a real estate agent turned reality TV star to take a seat in the Oval Office. I was happily surprised by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper’s return to Twin Peaks. Most of all, I didn’t expect Cam’ron, aka Killa Cam, to use his time while onstage in front of 15,000 fans to promote his line of limited-edition socks. But that’s exactly what happened at the end of his set during Agenda Festival on Saturday, July 15.
Agenda Festival in Long Beach was Agenda Show’s first foray into expanding its annual trade show with a small music festival. The festival featured a mainstage sponsored by Hurley, with a side stage in the outdoor food truck area sponsored by Volcom and Burger Records. The latter hosted fewer than half a dozen artists on Burger while the former, located in a parking lot behind the Long Beach Convention Center, hosted bigger names including Ludacris and Tyler, The Creator.
The music festival also gave the promoters a chance to open their doors to the general public by converting the bottom floor of the convention center into a swap meet of surf, skate and hip-hop brand pop-up shops. Since 2003, Agenda Show, based in Los Angeles, has hosted annual trade shows featuring a diverse array of brands, creators, retailers, distributors, investors and more in Long Beach, Las Vegas and other cities. This year, big name brands such as Levi’s, RVCA, Volcom, Dickies and DC Shoes shared floor space with lesser-known companies like Dumbgood, Salty Crew, Made in Mayhem and Stance, the latter of which worked with Cam'ron on his line of pink camouflage socks.
The layout was such that everyone had to walk through the pop-up shops area first before arriving to either music stage. That’s probably why most of the people arriving to watch the Beat Junkies were dressed in new shirts branded with cartoon characters, or sporting new pairs of limited-edition kicks imported from Japan, or strapped with giant novelty backpacks large enough to carry three average-sized toddlers.
Mixmasters J. Rocc and Melo-D spun for nearly two hours and left much of the young crowd a bit confused with their selection of classic hip-hop tracks, which included lots of Wu-Tang Clan, Busta Rhymes and Gang Starr. The generational gap between lovers of “dad rap” (as some of my peers have taken to calling classic ’80s and ’90s hip-hop) and those scratching their heads was made more evident thanks to the faux outrage of the two older DJs, who tried to hype up kids young enough to be their, well, kids as their James Brown mixes blared from the speakers.
Inside the pop-up shop area, a rock band named After School Special (aka ASS), with not a single member over the age of 12, performed GG Allin and FIDLAR covers at RVCA’s booth. It was catchy, it was fast, it was fun, and someone opened up that fucking pit. Meanwhile, rapper Fat Tony hit the side stage and revealed that he wasn’t actually fat but had plenty of rap songs he could safely perform in the company of the many young children who were at the event with their parents.
Back at the mainstage, Lil Dicky was the first artist to pull a big audience. The rapper-comedian born David Andrew Burd showed off his comedic chops between songs and, truth be told, the whole thing felt like a stand-up routine done via rap. There was the “abortion — pro choice” call-and-response bit with the crowd, an off-key rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" because he noticed “no one had done that yet,” plus his surprisingly on-key rendition of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.”
The aforementioned Cam’ron then came out for a set that ended almost as soon as it began. He powered through a number of hits including “Wet Wipes,” “Hey Ma” and “Suck It or Not,” then invited everyone to visit Stance’s booth, where he was selling those limited-edition socks.
Ludacris eventually made his way out with DJ Infamous and Lil’ Fate. The trio showed off their skills as trained entertainers and showmen with a long set that separated the “real Ludacris fans from the Fast and Furious fans,” as Luda put it. The trio worked their way through a grocery list of hits including “How Low,” “My Chick Bad,” “Act a Fool,” “What’s Your Fantasy,” “Pimpin’ All Over the World,” “Ho” and “Rollout (My Business).”
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Odd Future’s Taco then warmed up the crowd with a brief set before Tyler, The Creator came on. Dude had to reset his intro, though, because he slipped and fell on some kind of liquid when he ran up onstage.
“Start this shit over from the beginning, pretend this shit never happened,” Tyler said in his trademark outfit (bright pastel shirt and shorts with a cap) as he ran back offstage to reset the entire production. Jasper Dolphin also joined him onstage as they ran through numerous tracks from Tyler’s solo albums and Odd Future’s discography. A$AP Rocky made a guest appearance for a bit and even teased a possible mixtape together. Who dat boy? Dat boy Tyler and he had the whole crowd jumping for an hour, something the dad rap didn’t do earlier in the day.