Last week, New York City was hit by a snowstorm, but the grand opening of Levi’s new flagship location at Times Square marched on. The party went down inside the two-story, 16,902-square-foot store, and the musical acts braved slippery streets and delayed trains to perform for a packed house. The event honored the snowy city by playing host to a slew of New York artists both iconic and rising, as well as food and drinks symbolic of the Big Apple (like Katz’s Deli, Milk Bar, Fuku, and Gray’s Papaya hot dogs).
Emceed by comedian Cipha Sounds, the party’s highlights included live (and all surprise) performances from Lauryn Hill (who sang classics “Killing Me Softly,” “Doo-Wop,” “Lost Ones,” and “Ready or Not”), De La Soul, Raekwon of Wu-Tang, MIKE, and Joey Bada$$. There were also DJ sets from Questlove, Nick Zinner, Harry Fraud, Angel + Dren, Julian Casablancas, Justine D, and Heron Preston. A quartet of New York-based artists—graffiti artist Futura, urban photographer 13th Witness, graphic designer Happy Noise, and visual artist Cey Adams—were on hand to create custom Levi’s pieces and designs for attendees that were direct-to-garment printed in-store. Further party favors included a mobile vinyl set-up, where a selection of five songs from Rhino were made into a commemorative Levi’s custom 7″ on site. Song selections included Notorious B.I.G., Chic, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Ramones, and Grandmaster Flash. There were even a few fresh young Hollywood faces (Ansel Elgort, Hailey Baldwin, and Dylan Sprouse) seen mingling amidst all the denim.
The event culminated with an all-star finale: Julian Casablancas added some indie-rock grooves to the glorious hip-hop vibe and covered “Walk on the Wild Side” (after telling the crowd he was “just an actor playing Lou Reed”), which evolved into “Can I Kick It” (a tune sampling “Wild Side,” of course) performed by rapper Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest; Chic joined Q-Tip on the stage for an impromptu “Let’s Dance,” and then sang “Le Freak” with guest Princess Nokia, who added her own rap to the mix; and as an epic closer, Chic and Q-Tip left the crowd with a feel-good “Good Times/Rapper’s Delight” mash-up. Inclement weather be damned.