First and foremost, I would like to praise Jordan Brand for putting together 23Black – which featured free performances from talented artists such as Travis Scott, SZA, Wiz, and many more. Ultimately, 23Black dished out amazing music that put All-Star Weekend to an end.
It was announced through Twitter on Saturday evening that 23Black would take place the following Sunday night. Sponsored through Nike, the tickets were free and given out on a reservation basis. I initially had no intention of attending because I caught a cold earlier the same day, but my brother easily persuaded me to go with him. Peer pressure and a severe case of FOMO got the best of me.
Located in the middle of Downtown LA, the event was held in the middle of a strange construction lot. It didn’t seem as if the area was ever used to hold an event, but surprisingly, it worked out well since it wasn’t too crowded. Jordan Brand organized the space from a barren area to a pretty poppin venue. The backdrop featured cargo units with amazing visuals projected onto them, granting the area a pretty damn cool urban tone.
Aside from the free concert, I didn’t think anyone knew what to expect from the event, but I had my own suspicions. I speculated that limited edition merchandise would be sold at the venue, but nothing beyond that. Doors opened at 5PM, but I was unintentionally and fashionably late. About 10 minutes before the doors opened, I got a text from my brother telling me that they just launched the new Jordan Tinker 3’s via Snapchat exclusively for those at 23Black. Missing the release of those Jordans was such a fail.
After we had already arrived late, the security guards told us no cameras were allowed inside unless we wore press passes. But thinking on his feet, my friend managed to hide two full-sized professional cameras into a black bag and brought it through security claiming it was simply a sweater. Amazed by how it worked, I couldn’t complain because we were about to score some great footage.
Right when we entered, Wiz Khalifa performed first and he took the stage, but his performance felt a bit off. He was censoring his music completely. I was confused, but I tried not to let it bother me because I didn’t even know his music well enough at the time. Eventually, he hinted that the censorship was necessary in order for him to get paid. His performance lasted only 30 minutes and the crowd didn’t seem too hyped up.
Prominently improving the set, SZA was a last minute addition to the official lineup as she was to co-headline with Travis. I’ll be honest, as much as I say I enjoy SZA, I haven’t listened through CTRL entirely. But she blew the crowd away with an amazing set, pumped up energy, and a soulful voice. She played a few songs from CTRL, but it was the same length as Wiz’s performance, a mere 30 minutes.
Travis Scott was the final performance, and it felt like hours before he finally came on stage. It slowly began to rain during the waiting period and since it was an outdoor event, people ran for cover while others took the opportunity to get closer to the stage. Travis finally showed up on stage around 10:20PM and killed it! Hyped up, the crowd formed mosh pits surrounding all sides of the stage. Fans rapped along to his lyrics at the top of their lungs. He performed a mix of everything, including all the songs he was featured in recently – from Dark Knight Dummo, 4AM, to Skywalker. For those who haven’t seen Travis in concert, his increasingly electric, yet somewhat intimidating energy was core to his awesome performance.
Jordan Brand did an overall amazing job with the organization and execution of this show. The limited publicity and last minute announcement definitely kept the event low-key amidst the madness of All Star Weekend. This showed me the importance of being in the know for cool events that could happen at anytime. The fact that it was free to attend was the icing on the cake as this could’ve easily been a paid-entry event. I’m just also glad my brother convinced me to go. Although unlikely, I really hope that Jordan Brand coordinates this event again, or others like it, in the future.