Thanks to good luck, good looks, and a series of fortunate life events, I found myself at Genentech‘s annual employee party last weekend at AT&T Park. Genentech, if you’re unaware, is essentially the “Google, Inc.” of the biotechnology world; both in their market leadership and their employee perks. Take a look at any “best places to work” survey of the past few decades and they’ll be somewhere near or at the top of the list. Their employee parties are legendary; one year they hosted Bob Dylan, the Eagles, and Foo Fighters at the same concert in their parking lot. Not your average round of drinks after work at the bar.
For the past few summers, they’ve rented out the entire AT&T Park stadium and invited all of their 12,000+ employees and their families to enjoy an afternoon of carnival games, free concessions and drinks, and most importantly – live music from some of the biggest names in pop music. Part of the charm of the event is they don’t announce the musical guests ahead of time, so it’s always a fun game the weeks leading up to the concert to guess who will perform. This year’s surprise artists were Jason Derulo, Imagine Dragons, and America’s sweetheart; Katy Perry.
We didn’t arrive in time to catch Jason Derulo sing his ubiquitous radio anthem “Want To Want Me“, but most who observed his performance said it was a little rough around the edges. Our first musical experience of the day was the modern rock stylings of Imagine Dragons. I honestly had very low expectations for this band, but they gave a solid, inoffensive performance. I can only imagine (dragons) how many shows they’ve played in the three years since their unavoidable smash radio hit “Radioactive” was released, but they’ve blossomed into a very profession live band. That name though… Probably one of the worst in pop music. A friend at the concert remarked that every time she hears it, it sounds like a command.
Next up was headliner, Katy Perry. Let me tell you – Katy Perry didn’t just show up in jeans and t-shirt and sing a few songs. She exploded onto the stage in a thunder of smoke and wind, wearing full warpaint makeup and some kind of clear vinyl miniskirt number that looked like a shower curtain. It was intense. I really enjoyed Katy’s performance. She’s had so many hits over the years, that I actually knew almost every song she played. An important ingredient for an enjoyable concert experience.
Even more impressively dressed were Katy’s hardworking backup dancers. Swaddled in custom white polyester smocks with sparkling futuristic trousers and Nikes, they appeared to have arrived at AT&T Park from the future. At one point during the performance, they emerged from behind the stage with flying butterfly flags that they carried out into the audience.
Toward the end of Katy’s set, stage hands emerged with giant balloons in the shape of what I can only assume are some of Katy’s favorite emojis. Also included was a taco labeled somewhat promiscuously, “Katy’s Taco.” Fifty years from now when all of the earth’s finite supply of helium has been depleted, future generations will look back us and mumble things like “You dumb motherfuckers.”
Nevertheless, if Katy Perry comes to your town, you should catch her show. Even if you’re not a Katy Perry or even pop music fan, you’ll enjoy the spectacle of the event.