In November 2015, Justin Bieber celebrated the release of his album Purpose with an intimate show at L.A.'s Staples Center, where he performed a few songs, answered some questions, and skateboarded onstage. He was emotional that night, choking back tears while talking about how he had "lost [his] place" in the world for a while.
Almost five years later, Bieber delivered his Purpose follow-up, Changes, and marked the occasion with another special launch party on Friday night (February 14). This time, he took over a private indoor skatepark called The Berrics, just three miles southeast of Staples and situated behind a row of unassuming warehouses. The Spotify-hosted event transformed the airy space into "House of Changes," billed as a "carefully curated epicenter of all things Bieber." Everywhere you looked, there was some installation or dessert or piece of merch to discover. So when your eyes would eventually wander over to the small pack of skaters rolling up and down the ramps, it was only with a shocked double-take that you noticed Bieber himself.
The man of the hour was dressed down in a yellow Drew House hoodie and a beanie, grinding and board-sliding around the tiny park and blending in with the pack of fellow skaters whom he would fist-pump after doing some cool trick. His manager Scooter Braun was sitting on a bench watching him, his friend and Drew House co-founder Drew Good was hanging out by a DJ who played Changes over the speakers, and his videographer Alfredo Flores was vibing along to the music while capturing JB on film.
A small contingent of superfans chosen by Spotify were invited to the event, and when they weren't watching Bieber on his board, they were exploring the immersive, Changes-themed zones that filled the room. Upon walking in, fans grabbed a white t-shirt from the "Off the Rails" portal entry — at each subsequent stop, they could pick up different Changes decals to customize their tees. The "Intentions Room" let fans bring their own written "Intentions" to life in a visual display. On the walls, they penned things like, "Learn to love myself" and "Help others." Bieber himself even wrote, "My intention is to be the best family man I can be."
From there, fans jumped into the massive "Plush Pit," which was filled with human-sized stuffed teddy bears reminiscent of the Drew House mascot, Theodore. Other cute photo opps included the "Changes Motel," a kitschy rendering of a vintage motel room, and a red-lit photo booth where you could make your own Changes album cover that was then printed and fit into a physical CD case.
On the other side of the skatepark was the "Yummy Banquet," based on the single's delicacy-filled music video. A bar served custom cocktails like the vodka-based "Running Over" and the tequila- and mezcal-filled "Yummy." Dancers in full-body food costumes — a piece of bacon, a bunch of grapes, etc. — shimmied and shook around tables upon tables of frosted donuts, gelatin cakes, and macaroons with smiley faces on them.
Every now and then, I glanced back over at Bieber, who remained skating, smiling, occasionally busting out a little dance move, and consistently looking happy and comfortable. Unlike that Purpose event almost five years ago, the evening felt authentic and relaxed — there were no tears, probably minimal nerves, and zero pressure for Bieber to "perform." As he tells us on the new album, he's been "going through changes"; he's wifed-up, got a mustache, and feeling healthier. Last night made it clear: the changes are good ones.