It was a Thirsty Thursday (May 11) in New York City, and an unusually large line wrapped around both sides of an entrance to Astor Place Hairstylists, a barber shop in lower Manhattan. The buzzing group of hipsters and cool kids weren't queuing up to get a fresh cut, but instead, to gain access into SoundCloud and Under Armour's collaborated experience for its Shift the Culture event.
Inside the venue—which reached over capacity quite early in the night—partygoers gathered in an open space surrounded by salon chairs, mirrors, and photos of men modeling various hairstyles. Sipping on alcoholic beverages and chatting with their neighbors, they patiently awaited the performances of the night's musical guests: Goldlink, Leaf, Reese LaFlare and DJ duo, Daytrip.
The stage might not have been their usual setup, but each act managed to command the crowd's attention with high energy performances. Highlights included Leaf inviting a number of women from the audience to join her girl power set as she delivered live renditions of her most popular songs like her collaboration with Lil Yachty, "Nada." Goldlink soon followed, bringing even more life to the party. The D.C. native even brought his hometown flare to the stage, performing singles from his latest album, At What Cost.
The musical event, while celebrating the launch of Under Armour's newest sneaker, was part of SoundCloud's initiative to connect with its consumers and bring a unique twist to their experiences. "We try to make sure that as much as we are SoundCloud, the app and website, that we continuously give [our consumers] ways to engage with our creative audiences in an up close and intimate way," De Juan Wilson, VP of Global Marketing at SoundCloud told VIBE.
While many would have been happy seeing Goldlink at any venue, SoundCloud sought to enhance the experience by exploring the relationship between music consumption and everyday places. "It felt a little more authentic to play into what is happening in the lives of our consumers everyday—where are they going, what are they doing when they're on the go—and actually bring music to places where they listen to [it] in their everyday lives," Wilson said of the company's decision to select unusual concert sites.
The barbershop, in particular, held significant meaning because of its dual function as a place of business and a place for many people to connect. "You spend a lot of time in barbershops waiting. Barbershops are the connecting ground, and you notice now more and more people are sitting with their headphones on," he continued. "Our consumers are listening to music anytime they can. They don't want to miss a moment to be connected to what's emerging. So it's about these moments that happen in these places anyway and making sure we bring it to life in a more dynamic, creative way."
In addition to the barbershop, SoundCloud has previously held its experiences in peculiar places, including Frank's Coin Laundry in Austin, Texas, with a special performance form Saba, and in a Mexican cantina with Smino, Masego and Kodie Shane.