I showed up at the Imperial Arts Studio in downtown LA for the inaugural MTV’s Wonderland totally forgetting I had already been there before.
Last September, Halsey did her album release show there in a partnership with Taco Bell. Though this night wouldn’t begin and end with Doritos Locos tacos, it did involve some drinks and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Wonderland is a new, weekly show that has MTV “putting the ‘M’ back in ‘MTV.'” On this first edition, performances and interviews with Ty Dolla Sign, Tinashe and BROODS were to take place across three different stages.
We got there 30 minutes or so before MTV went live on air at 8 PM. They had some branded beverages. There was the Ty$ Three Way, Tinashe’s Love Potion and the Brooding Mule. I had three of the Brooding Mules that were all pretty strong. Luckily I soaked up some of the booze with a grilled cheese sandwich before heading to the stage.
The demographic of people that showed up for the turn up were right in line with who I imagine watches MTV these days. It was very 18-to-24, and they were all dressed up for a night out. It was cool because it was clear these kids were all about the music, singing and dancing to the DJ’s tunes in between performances. I went to an event a few days ago where people seemed to be more about the scene and the free drinks than the performers on stage — this was the opposite.
We went to the largest stage that was outdoors, thinking this was where all the performances were to take place. As it was, it ended up being just where Ty Dolla $ign performed. BROODS and Tinashe were performing on stages in smaller areas inside and we must have missed the signs directing you towards them.
There was some downtime in the crowd as we waited for the show to start. Security saw me and my friend with drinks and asked to see our wristbands. We showed them and it was clear MTV had security to make sure there weren’t underage kids drinking on air. Good for them for doing that. Some kid named Rasheed asked if we had any gum or mints. My friend gave him a few mints and he said he’d return with some cash. He actually did and cracked us up. He had a sort of Dave Chappelle meets Vince Staples vibe to him — super goofy and hilarious.
Ty Dolla Sign isn’t really my bag at all, but he had everyone pretty hyped up. I felt like it was mostly a track playing the songs while he served as his own hype man. That’s what a lot of live hip-hop is these days (see every Tory Lanez performance ever), but I tend to favor the guys with live bands such as Anderson Paak and Chance the Rapper. Most of the kids knew the songs well enough that they were just happy to sing along, not worried about whether or not Ty Dolla was actually singing them.
I was bummed I didn’t get to see BROODS or Tinashe perform in person. So I watched the episode this morning. The experience translates better on TV with the fluid jump from stage to stage and whatnot.
The three-host crew of Lizzo, Steak and Myke Wright were good fits for the show. They expectedly showed the nerves that can come with a first live show but did great. Myke Wright cracked me up when he said “Ty Dolla Sign is about to kill it like Harambe’s zoo keeper.” Watching afterwards, BROODS and Tinashe killed it with their performances as well.
Steak actually had a lot of insight into the LA scene, referencing The Smell in an interview with BROODS. There was a lot to like and the minor flubs will be easy to fix as they get more comfortable from show to show. Overall, the interviews were well conducted and humanized the performers. That’s important when doing this kind of show that’s directed at a younger crowd. Bring out the things in these people that make them realize they’re just like you.
Overall, I’m interested and intrigued by MTV Wonderland and will record it to my DVR or try and attend when people I like are performing. It’s cool that MTV has seemingly bought that space downtown to throw these every week. They put a lot of work into making it look pretty dope and the layout is cool. It’s a step in the right direction for bringing music back to a network that revolutionized the entire industry.
Next week’s episode will feature MØ (a favorite of mine), Mac Miller and LEON. So check it out at 8 PM Pacific Time.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images for MTV