Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Heineken Inspire Show with Cee Lo Green, Nas, J. Cole, and Diplo

On this past Saturday afternoon, I attended the Heineken Inspire show with Eric at Pier 36 in downtown Manhattan. The whole process, from getting in to enjoying the show was amazingly well planned and organized. Other than the fact that I stood for about 8 hours straight, which made me glad that I work at a cushy office job, the show was one of the best concert experiences I've ever had.
I had found out about the show through My Free Concert ( To get in, we had to first preregister by sending a text message to some number and then show security the confirmation message that was texted back to us. We got in line at 2 PM and were inside by 3:15. Super smooth sailing. No obnoxious bouncers or security guards. I didn't get hassled for bringing in my SLR or 2 lenses (17-85 mm and 70-300 mm) either.

Once we got inside, we were amazed at the amount of space inside this huge warehouse that was concerted into a concert hall for this show. There were several bars all serving Heinekens of course, in addition to 5 or 6 food stands serving tacos, hot dogs, Jamaican beef patties, and pretzels. The best part? EVERYTHING WAS FREE!! Free unlimited beer! Free unlimited food! What's even better than free stuff? The fact that I never waited more than 1 minute for a beer and 10 minutes for any food because the organizers actually kept the crowd to a manageable size. I tried the whole Heineken line up: Heineken, Heineken Light, Heineken Dark Lager (yes, I had no idea they had other beers besides just Heineken), even the Heineken Light in the cool aluminum bottle that glows in black light. While we gorged ourselves on the free food and beer, Eric and I enjoyed the really great mix by DJ Roxy Cottontail (blonde girl in the picture below), who was the first performer of the night. The music she chose was so good I would have been perfectly content even if no one else showed up.
Then Diplo (white dude with the headphones; I had never heard of these DJs before) came on and put on another hour of good music, followed by a lot of awesome hip hop songs by Pete Rock.
By the time 5:00 or 5:30 rolled around, people were getting antsy. Finally, some dude whose name I don't remember but looks very familiar in his purple sweater came up and warmed up the crowd. He then introduced J. Cole (who I had also never heard of, but is apparently an up-and-comer that's been getting raves; yeah I'm a poser when it comes to hip hop), who was actually surprisingly good and got the crowd totally energized. Apparently almost everyone else knew who he was. He was followed by Dres from Black Sheep, which was famous for that "The Choice Is Yours" song ("You can get with THIS, or you can get with THAT") in the early 90's. Apparently he has an album coming out so he was on for a few songs.
Then Cee Lo Green came on, backed by some HOT ladies in white tights (note: I had to refrain from making this album 90% Ms. Brunette/Ms. Blonde, 10% rappers). I had only known him from that Gnarls Barkley "Crazy" song before, although I did read about the "Fuck You" song. Man, he was awesome! The highlight of the night for me basically. That man could sing! His music style seems to alternate between rock and old-school mo-town R&B. However you try to categorize it, it's fantastic. The best part was the "Fuck You" song, of course, when the lyrics bounced on the jumbotron behind him as he sang, like a karaoke video.
After Cee Lo performed for about an hour, we had to endure another hour of standing around because of the equipment switching and also some technical difficulties. Then Nas came on. It was the first time I had ever seen him live and was actually somewhat of a letdown after Cee Lo because there seemed to be some issues with the acoustics. He just didn't sound as good for some reason. Of course, he did "One Mic" and "Made You Look." At one point, he even jumped into the crowd. His burly entourage came around to pull him back on stage. To be honest, the whole time he was performing, I was wondering who the secret guest would be. Kanye West was rumored to be The One, which was the main reason I went to this show.
Alas, after Nas performed about 45 minutes, it was all over. No Kanye. Later on I would find out that J. Cole was the special guest. Then I walked the 1.5 mile back to the apartment and collapsed on my sofa.

What an amazing experience! I have to admit it was a genius idea on Heineken's part. It definitely cultivated some brand affinity from me. While I wouldn't trade my favorite Belgians for a Heineken the next time I'm at a bar, I might be more inclined to pick it over say, a Corona or Amstel.

Here are the pics: