Thursday, July 9, 2009

Frito-Lame

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 9:14 PM

On the popular concert Web site Pollstar, just above tomorrow’s listings for real-life shows by the Honey Island Swamp Band at the Hi-Ho Lounge and Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes at the Maple Leaf, there’s a slightly higher-profile — and yet entirely virtual-reality — gig scheduled for tonight in New Orleans: the Doritos Late Night Concert featuring Blink-182 and Big Boi. What lucky local venue is hosting the respective pop-punk outfit and OutKast MC? “Doritos Late Night Concert,” repeats Pollstar, apparent victim of a glitch in the viral-marketing Matrix.

Clicking on any of the other venues on the site takes you to a schedule for the actual locale, but this one opens an advertorial jack-in-the-box. “It's a musical experience like none other: Blink-182 and Big Boi in an exclusive show onstage, online and in your hands!” the description reads in large italicized lettering.

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The campaign promises “a full-sensory performance featuring live music and cutting-edge technology.” But of course, there’s a catch. “You won't find tickets at your favorite ticket outlet. All you need to access this night of great music is a special-edition bag of Doritos Late Night Chips. Grab a bag the next time you stop for munchies, and then log in to doritoslatenight.com for the online experience of the summer!”

Dazed lemmings Curious journalists that we are, Gambit editorial assistant Alex Woodward and I ventured next door to Rouses for our carb-loaded, spice-coated key. “It’s genius,” Woodward reasoned, “because even if you don’t like Doritos or you don’t like the music, you still want to try it, because that’s ridiculous.

And he’s right: While I maintain a mild affinity for Cool Ranch and Daddy Fat Sacks from my college days (when they often were enjoyed together — imagine that), Blink-182 makes me want to jam our ubiquitous red copyediting ballpoints into my beleaguered eardrums. Yet there we were, plunking down $3.99 plus tax for a bag of “Tacos at Midnight” tortilla chips at 1:30 p.m. on a weekday. Rouses cashier Destiny looked appropriately suspicious.

The "concert" was nothing like Hunter Hindman, the San Francisco adman behind the silly scheme, described. “It’s almost like holding a hologram in your hand,” Hindman told Wired, the “almost” likely added after a pass by the Goodby, Silverstein & Partners legal department. “This experience literally explodes out of the bag onto your screen.”

Actually, it’s almost like holding a bag of stoner food in your hand while the “experience” of being suckered — watching yourself goofily hoist a bite-sized video of Blink-182 bouncing around a bite-sized virtual stage — explodes all over your cerebral cortex. Adding potential injury to insult was this warning on our Mac screen, which naturally we breezed right past in a Doritos-induced haze: “Drlatenite.http.internapcdn.net is requesting access to your camera and microphone. If you click Allow, you may be recorded.” Fantastic. Who knows what other insidious use Frito-Lay has in store for that sad footage.

“What a waste,” said Gambit IT manager Joe Mariano, at first genuinely intrigued by the premise behind the “augmented reality” technology.

“Sums up my feelings toward Blink-182 in general,” said editor Kevin Allman, probably wondering why bad SoCal pop-punk suddenly was blaring from an adjacent office.

“I’m unimpressed,” said a disillusioned Woodward, who quickly left the room.

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