Outside the Imperial Arts Studio in downtown Los Angeles every Thursday night, all the cool kids, hipsters and the like gather to get into MTV's new live music series, Wonderland. Shot at a low-key part of town that gives the feel of a hole in the wall discovered only by true music lovers, the show is MTV's way of getting back into the good graces of the youth music culture it helped cultivate in the 1980s and '90s.
Last Thursday (Nov. 3), MTV Wonderland didn't disappoint with an eclectic line up of rapper Jeezy, New York rock trio Sunflower Bean, and buzzing alternative R&B singer Gallant. The show set a mini festival vibe providing three different sound stages for three radically different but culturally relevant acts.
Even host Lizzo did her thing with a performance of her own. One cool standout from the taping was the photo "video" booth Time Machine, which featured one-second slow motion videos instead of the typical still prints. Guests posed for the cameras while throwing up confetti, balloons, and fake money.
Episode nine's taping on Nov. 11 continued the turn up streak as the show's "resident music guru" Matt FX successfully curated artists who feed the eclectic tastes of today's youth with performances from Sleigh Bells, Kehlani, Flatbush Zombies, D.R.A.M., and Vic Mensa. The atmosphere felt like a genuine backyard party complete with food trucks, drinks and fans ready for a good time. Attendees were seen breaking into impromptu dance-offs and some even came out to twerk. VIP guests were treated to an open bar with specialty cocktails named after artists on the lineup each week, like "Sleigh Bell-ini," "Kehlani Tsunami" and "Mensa Mule." There was also a spread of food commonly found at family BBQs, including hot wings, pulled pork sliders, and mac and cheese.
MTV may be onto something with a show that organically captures a scene of people getting together and enjoying good music. Whether watching on TV or checking out locally in Los Angeles, it's a show worth attending. If for nothing else, do it for the culture.