words & photos by Matthew Barron
It’s the first day of my first ever Agenda Las Vegas, I’m in taxi full of boutique owners with over two decades of experience and I can’t help but think, “Abel is 100% on stage right now and we are 100% about to show up too late.” We just got a text saying that the party is at capacity… but screw it, we’re gonna pull up anyway. The eight of us climb out of the SUV, push open the chainlink fence and follow a trail of XO logos down a concrete path towards the back entrance of a secret production studio in west Las Vegas.
Silence at the front entrance makes us skeptical. The chop-shop-turned-dystopian event venue has no guide lights or event signs, no surrounding hotels or casinos and is enclosed by nothing but loose gravel plots and small business parking lots. The Vegas skyline — and our Venetian home — is in the distance, but the city lights shine comfort over our uneasiness.
Party sounds are becoming increasingly audible with each step. As we turn the corner, we can see stage lights shining through a garage door opening, but there’s no line — maybe they sent everyone home?
Then I hear it! The Weeknd is on stage (that means we’ve missed Kaytranada’s set) and for some reason, I haven’t started running in yet…
“Peace, I’m about to get these shots.”
Red LED lights flickered as I pulled out my camera and maneuvered through the wall of dedicated XO fans that had formed at the railing of the GA pit. Pairing his falsetto notes with sets of energetic moves to set the vibe, The Weeknd displayed his versatility as a stadium status performer to an audience 70 times smaller than that of the Staples Center.
Abel’s genuine appreciation for his sneaker collaboration was recognizable by the quality of his performance — whether he was laughing with the crowd or throwing his mic stand up in the air, he never a dull moment fly.
Needless to say, The Madness was in full effect at the show.
As my 35th film shot had been fired, I decided to let the fans enjoy their front row luxuries without further interruption. I ducked to the bar at the back of the room to double up on Grey Goose’s sponsored Starboy mixed drinks, deciding to save the last shot in my film roll for a special portrait should it present itself.
Before I knew it, I was in the VIP dancing in line to “I Can’t Feel My Face” with Kitty Cash and Kaytranada. The Weeknd’s high energy continued to fill the room. Before reuniting with the rest of my group, I seized the opportunity I’d prepared myself for and asked Kay and Kitty for a double portrait.
“Yeah, I got this though.”
Kaytranada separated himself from his friends and hit the pose for a solo portrait. The original idea was fire, but my camera took a lag. Luckily the delay provided a suspense for the shot and as he released his pose, he ended up in the ideal focus point of my camera. What I thought was going to develop as a blurry motion shot turned out to be the best photo of the night.
I was the only one there to work. So after work, I explored. PUMA had multiple XO Parallel art installations set up throughout the venue — one dark shipping container iconically held the shoes inside of a glass case on a white podium, with one light shining down on the party’s precious cargo. Another installation suspended pairs in mid air, and let guests interact with the sneakers from behind the glass. Perfect boomerang content.
Closing his set with an encore performance of “The Hills,” The Weeknd left the stage to an infectious “Abel!” chant. Following the event, the professionals in the building were aligned on one, if not two things: the shoes are a must cop and there needs to be more sneaker launch concerts for the culture — preferably featuring timeless performances like we just saw.
Lucky for us, The Weeknd x PUMA Parallel sees its official release tomorrow online at PUMA and select fashion retailers worldwide. After seeing what it means to the involved parties, this shoe is definitely on my radar.
Check out some shots from the event below, and best of luck with copping your pair tomorrow.