By Rya Baker
An upfront is a strange animal. By (loose) definition, it's a meeting in late May hosted by television network executives to entice advertisers into buying ad time during the network's shows, both old and new, and wooing press into writing about said programming.
Last night, Vice, the growing media empire that started some 17 years ago as a free, Montreal-based magazine, did things a little differently at their "Full Frontal Vice" party. In addition to celebrating the acquisition of the domain name www.vice.com (which was once, yes, a porn site), a short film was screened displaying the company's new journalistic endeavors, which will be featured on the company's new Internet HQ along with content being parsed to such global partners as the Huffington Post in the US and The Guardian in the UK. An HBO show, set to go into production this fall, was also announced.
Sure, press was there (hi!) and men in suits made appearances, but also on hand at Brooklyn's One Hanson Place were strippers, a brief presentation given by Vice CEO Shane Smith on how the company's growth was inspired by the business model of Internet porn, and some big bands (and one Boss) came through to help the celebrations.
Opening the evening on two different stages (one on the venue's main stage and one in the "Vault") were Brooklyn duo Tanlines and Portland's Unknown Mortal Orchestra, respectively. Tanlines, a dance-y, synth- and drum-driven act, debuted new material and brought back favorites from their follow-up to 2010's strong Settings EP and their New Flowers LP. Unknown Mortal Orchestra played psychedelic guitar rock-inspired sounds from their self-titled debut. Also drawing a sizable crowd (and something of a pit) upstairs was the newly-reunited Death From Above 1979, an old standby from Vice’s record label.
But the night truly belonged to the one and only Ricky Rozay. After a brief call and response (with a very enthusiastic crowd replying "Roooo-zay!" to the DJ's "Ricky") and an introduction by Maybach Music Group's latest signing, Stalley, the Boss entered the room around 1 AM and did not disappoint - opening his set with "John," the same track Lil Wayne closed the VMAs with, and moving on to such other hits as "9 Piece" (another duet with Wayne) and the track that's launched a thousand remixes and parodies, "Hustlin'."
Who knows what Vice will serve up next, but after last night, we're pumped for everything they have to offer.