This spring, Vans continued its worldwide string of events known as “Vans City and Classics.” The traveling event involves celebrating the brand’s emphasis on music and art by collaborating with local artists and bands in each city to put on a showcase of visual art and musical performances. Last year, Vans toured through cities including Boston, San Francisco, and Buenos Aires. For their spring 2014 tour, Vans had events lined up in Chicago, Brooklyn, and LA. The events are free admission; all that needs to be done is to send an email to the corresponding Vans email address to inquire an RSVP. So long as the venue is under its capacity, partygoers are also allowed to bring one guest.
The Vans Classic and Chicago event was hosted at The Bottom Lounge on May 15th, 2014. The event included Haerts, a Brooklyn based indie pop group that have toured with acts such as Atlas Genius and Washed Out; and Yawn, a local Chicago group that perform around various clubs in the Chicago area. Along with the live music, Vans was also showcasing a line of custom Vans gear from Chicago artist Chad Kouri. In order to win an item, Vans hosted an Instagram contest in which spectators took photos throughout the event. To win, partygoers must tag Vans in the post, and if Vans commented back, the partygoer would then be able to collect their favorite item at the merchandise table.
After looking through the past events that Vans hosted in other cities, I was expecting the event to be much more crowded. Free live music, and a chance to win Vans custom shoes? Count me in. I was sure to get there early to be sure I wasn’t left standing outside in this briskly cold spring we’ve been having. However, the crowd was surprisingly small that night, consisting of mostly mid-20 and 30 year olds wearing flannels and drinking PBR tall boys (a demographic that was not so surprising). Due to the low attendance, it seemed like anybody who had an Instagram and took a photo at the event won some kind of item that was being showcased.
Okay I get it, Vans hosting events like this one are basically an easy way to promote their products and brand image over social media. After looking through Instagram that night, Vans was trending all over the place, not just in Chicago, but also from fans all over the country who follow the company. My Instagram photo got nearly 50 likes from people I did not even know. But why does that matter to me? I got a chance to see some great live music at one of Chicago’s classic venues, and I even got a free pair of shoes out of it. To me, this event illustrates one of Chicago’s many outlets of music and art, as well as an opportunity to celebrate the city’s collaboration with a company that shares similar ideals.
Ryan Bach was raised in Glenview, Illinois before attending Boston University, where he studies business and competes for Boston University’s Men’s Swim Team. Currently he is working for a legal consulting firm in the Beacon Hill area of Boston, MA.