Monday, November 16, 2015

Where to Be Merry: Bruno Mars @ A Private T-Mobile Concert, The Shrine Auditorium

Last Tuesday, Nov. 10, T-Mobile took over The Shrine in downtown L.A. to throw a free concert featuring Bruno Mars, in celebration of their newest launch: Un-carrier X, which offers the ability to stream 24 services — including HBO, Hulu and Netflix — without using high-speed data.

Aesthetically speaking, for the event, T-Mobile decked the iconic L.A. venue in pink, inside and out. Outdoors, near the entrance, instead of an infamous red carpet, a pink carpet stretched down the length of the building, with the backdrop of a never-ending T-Mobile step-and-repeat. Once inside, multiple Un-carrier X ads featuring millennials graced the hallways and several no-host bars were strategically placed on the first and second floors.

On our way to our General Admission seats on the second floor balcony, my friend and I somehow ended up in a very snazzy VIP section. There were a ton of fun people to chat with, including a lot of T-Mobile staffers, access to view the concert from a prime spot on the balcony and a hosted bar that also made an amazing cocktail — the vodka-based Magenta Collins with lavender syrup, club soda, lemon juice and lavender sprig, pictured below.

Around 9 p.m., recording artist Zedd took the stage for a pretty epic DJ set. His DJ booth featured screens behind and below him, creating a surreal, 3D experience of moving backgrounds that were synchronized to change with the different beats of each song. There were fireworks, streamers, lasers, flashing lights. The whole nine yards. Zedd himself was beyond hyped, jumping up and down and getting really into each song. And the crowd went wild. At one point, I forgot where I was and thought I was in a legit rave, in a downtown warehouse.

Next up were simultaneous DJ sets by Lil Jon and DJ Vice. Strategically positioned in second-floor balconies on opposite ends of the venue, high above the crowd, the two spun hip-hop and EDM records. Sometimes they took turns, taking their time to flex their skills on the turntables. Other times, they effortlessly blended into each other’s tracks, rapidly going back and forth. At one point, Lil Jon reminded us just how many club-bangers he’s produced, playing many of his No. 1 singles, including “Turn Down for What,” “Get Low,” “Shots,” “Yeah!” and so many more.

And finally around 10:30 p.m., it was time for the man of the hour, Bruno Mars. He and his eight-member band burst onto the stage, bubbles of fiery energy, for the first song of the night, “Treasure.” He then went through hit after hit: “Billionaire,” “Marry You,” “Nothin’ on You,” “Dancing with Another Man” and “Grenade.” He even performed a cover of Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam” and what he said was a never-before-recorded song, “Top of the World.” And while the crowd cheered and sang along to pretty much every song, they gave a few extra cheers when Bruno Mars did a '90s R&B mash-up of Ginuwine’s “Pony,” Ghost Town DJ’s “My Boo,” Soul For Real’s “Candy Rain” and R. Kelly’s “Ignition.” He saved “Just the Way You Are” for the encore. Or, so we thought. After running off stage when the song was over, he and his band came back to perform “Locked Out Of Heaven.” And even then, it wasn’t over! They started to play what appeared to be only a few jazzy runs, but a few minutes in, the runs morphed into “Uptown Funk.” It was only after that song that the night was officially over.

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