I don’t cover many corporate events. The thing is, when you go to a corporate event you’re usually expected to cover it, and corporations aren’t big fans of bad press. If you read P&P, you’ve hopefully realized that we aren’t ass-kissers. If something sucks, we’ll say it sucks. I’ve learned over the years that when you get offerred admission to an exclusive event, accept the offer, cover it, and say it sucks, it usually ends up pissing some people off. And why would you want to read about an event that sucks anyway? Sometimes it can be funny to read about how much a corporation’s event sucks, but the correlation between how funny you make this kind of article and how pissed off the corporations get is very high. If you go LOL funny with this type of shit, the corporation will feel shamed and react with fury. They are like dragons. There’s really no way to come out of this situation with a flawless victory, and flawless victory should always be the goal.
Tonight (read: last night), I went to a corporate event but I wasn’t asked to cover it. As evidenced by the fact that I’m writing about it, it didn’t suck.
Axe put on the event. They rented out the Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium and didn’t give details on who the guest performer was. Word on the street was that it was Kendrick Lamar, but the man representing Axe did not confirm. “It is somebody very relevant to your audience,” he said. I stopped believing these kinds of comments because I have been told a million times that “You will like this!” and “This is right up your alley!” and “You DEFINITELY CAN’T AFFORD TO MISS THIS,” but really I can almost always afford to miss any corporate event and when I stay home at my apartment and watch nature shows and listen to music I almost NEVER regret it, so plenty of times I will be at a corporate event and then I will look to see what is playing on the National Geographic Channel and it’s almost always something good and I almost always think, FUCK I CAN DEFINITELY NOT AFFORD TO BE MISSING THAT. This is maybe something that you can’t relate to, though. Maybe you can’t afford to miss corporate events.
So as you can tell, I went into this corporate event with a very positive attitude. I may have mentioned in the past that one of my goals in 2013 is to be a more positive person. It’s working!
I got to the museum (it’s huge), then walked around for blocks trying to find the entrance to the planetarium. I still got there early because I am a punctual person, and the first thing I saw in the room was an ice sculpture of a spaceman. I walked past it and realized that wow, I really am in a planetarium and everyone is drinking cocktails and platters of finger foods are being passed around and the bartenders seem happy-but-not-too-happy about serving the customers. Proper bartender demeanor is a sign of a professional environment. Unhappy and over-happy bartenders don’t get many corporate event gigs.
We sipped cocktails made from vodka and blood orange juice for about a half hour, then a short movie about space was played. It explained how Axe’s new campaign is based around the Apollo launch, and they are planning a program to actually launch 22 people into space. It’s a crazy idea, and it’s the reason why we are in a planetarium. In case the space theme wasn’t obvious enough, next up we focused our attention to a large staircase and a bunch of Axe bros in astronaut suits slowly descended. And just in case a few people were still like, “Eh, I’m thinking space theme, but I’m not 100%,” the next person to come down the stair case was Buzz Aldrin. He speaks, but to be honest I missed most of what he said because I was kind of just staring and my brain was completely occupied with the idea that damn, that’s Buzz Aldrin. I totally spaced out.
Next, an announcement directed us to focus our attention to the stage. I still had my doubts that Kendrick was here. Then the announcer made some comment like, “You just saw the one and only and only BUZZ Aldrin, and now you’re about to see the BUZZ of the music industry.” Right then, someone I was with said she just saw Kendrick backstage. Unlike a normal concert, most people were slow to react, so we walked to the very front of the stage. 20 seconds later, Kendrick Lamar walked out.
He seemed happy, but not too happy. This clearly wasn’t his typical crowd, his typical environment, or his typical venue. I would be surprised if Kendrick had ever performed in a planetarium before. I would be even more surprised if he had ever performed to a crowd in which such a large percentage of the crowd was sipping blood orange cocktails. But Kendrick Lamar is a professional, and he made that very clear.
The situation didn’t call for his usual high energy, crowd-riling efforts. To be honest, most of the crowd didn’t seem very interested in the performance. There was no “Put three fingers in the air!” and no “Backseat Freestyle” to stir the blood orange-buzzed audience into a frenzy, but in a 20-minute set, tracks like “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “Money Trees,” and “Swimming Pools” had the crowd swaying and nodding, involved just enough to feel like they were a part of it, and that made all the difference. It was a short show, and nobody who’s ever seen Kendrick would call it his best, but it was one of his most impressive—it showed why Kendrick Lamar is capable of being a star. Not only can he convince every serious hip-hop fan that he’s one of the most important rappers of our time, but in a he can get a crowd full of cocktail-sipping networkers at a corporate space-themed event to feel his presence.