Diplo | Chiddy Bang | Lunice The Firebird March 30, 2012
In this day and age of corporate sponsorships often intertwining and ultimately propelling events by selling artists' "cool" - some kind of interesting (and confusing) standard is being set by the Axe: One Night Only tour featuring Lunice, Chiddy Bang and Diplo. The tour headed to undisclosed venues in select cities, with information and free tickets only announced via AXE on both Facebook and Twitter.
Roughly two weeks ago, when word first hit the Internet that St. Louis was one of the stops on a short college campus tour, the news quickly spread about the Mad Decent God, Diplo, coming to town. Bound together by a mix of social media frenzy (employing both Facebook and Twitter) and word of mouth, AXE's marketing campaign resulted in a technological scavenger hunt. The day before the show, the AXE bus visited "hot spots" around town with strict giveaway times.
That day, I managed to speak with a few people at one of the ticket drop locations, just outside of R-Sole shoe store on Delmar.
"I just saw a line and decided to get in it," said one person. "I like Chiddy Bang, and I don't know how to pronounce the other one [Diplo]!"
Local DJ Billy Brown expressed frustration over the unfortunate fact that he wasn't given a ticket even after following the van all over town before ultimately having to submit to his work schedule. Fortunately, he made it this time.
As a small line formed, an Axe spokesperson gave the crowd the run down - "When you get in line, you'll receive your M&Ms and two tickets. Make sure to bring a member of the opposite sex! The energy you bring to the show will be given back to you by Diplo!" M&Ms? Members of the opposite sex? What kind of cross-marketing angle were they going for here?
At 8:45 p.m. on the Friday evening of the show, a long line had formed outside of the Firebird. Comprising an eclectic mix of moombahton heads, college students, clubgoers and an entire St. Louis DJ contingent, the line collectively wriggled in anticipation. When one concertgoer was asked how he had found out about the evening's event, he replied "I heard about it from my friend who is a DJ (Noah of the club night EASY)."
"I live next to Wash. U. and I found out about the show from the RFT," said another. As the line continued to grow out of sight's end, local DJ Anna Zachritz exclaimed, "It's kind of like when the Wal-Mart came to town!"
iPhones out and Twitter feeds abuzz, it appeared that AXE's marketing had touched a nerve with the new technological age. As the eager crowd waxed and waned, local DJ Corey McCarthy noted that up-and-coming producer Jay Fay must've gotten in early as a result of his tweet.
As the clock neared the 9 p.m. mark, many were in fear of missing out on under-appreciated (and under-promoted) opening act Lunice. Slated to perform roughly around 8:30 to 9 p.m., the audience was relieved Firebird management noted that the event was running a bit behind.
Finally entering the club, many were surprised to see a relatively sparse crowd, as the entrance process proceeded at a slow pace. Although the event was 18+, a heavy line formed at the bar, revealing a one-drink minimum much to the chagrin of those 21-and-over. A live Axe twitter feed projected against one wall as an AXE "photo shoot" was backdropped against another. With the stage set with two large "AXE: One Night Only Tour" signs, the crowd could not help but feel overloaded with a visual assault by the evening's corporate sponsors. So the game goes.
Lunice hit the stage close to 9:15 p.m., as the crowd witnessed the 23-year old producer begin his set with a simple "swag" vocal sample played to the melody of Frederic Chopin's "Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35." It's a tough task as a relatively unknown opening for an internationally renowned, Grammy-nominated producer/DJ like Diplo, but Lunice's elegantly executed hip-hop/crunk mix proved that he could stand on his own ground. Effortlessly blending bass heavy hits like 2 Chainz' "I Spend It" and Waka Flocka's "Round of Applause" with his own production, Lunice's set was characterized by hyphy glitch with a crunk sensibility. And man, did it bump.
Unique in his production, Lunice has earned growing recognition through the use of the dark romanticism of downbeat hip-hop, gracefully mixed with panty dropping bass. In the middle of the set, the crowd could not help but swoon over a quick cameo from Diplo as he swayed across the stage, equipped with a shit-eating grin. Matching the audience's enthusiasm, Lunice's energy won over those unfamiliar as he ran through, ceremoniously handing out swag. Riling up the crowd with Ludacris' "What's Your Fantasy," a gaggle of painfully-underage, basketball jersey clad teens recited the hit line-for-line in perfect unison. As he winded down his set, he told the crowd "I got one more" as he dropped Aaliyah's "More Than A Woman," before bringing it to a haunting crawl.
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