Every state has a town with an unfortunate name. California has Weed. New Jersey has Loveladies. Arkansas has Toad Suck—yes, Toad Suck. For Oregon, the crown for most horribly-named city would have to go to Boring.
The unincorporated community lies a mere 20 miles east of Stumptown, just off of U.S. Route 26. At first glance, it’s easy to see Boring as a city living in its own little bubble, shut off from the rest of the world by choice. Yet for a town whose bread and butter was once timber and farming, the community has a knack for instigating bizarre corporate moments well outside the norm.
From Old Navy to Toshiba, the town has welcomed large companies into its neck of the woods, playing host to a slew of outlandish events over the past few years that playing off the town's woeful namesake. The newest addition to the corporate lineup? That'd be Vitaminwater.
The town was transformed Wednesday night as part of the #MakeBoringBrilliant campaign, a joint effort between Vitaminwater, Fuse, College Humor and the city of Boring. Transformed into what, exactly? Pretty much a giant Vitaminwater commercial. To commemorate a week spent injecting doses of alleged excitement into seemingly mundane tasks—raising the flag, going out to dinner and attending a community planning meeting—the company pimped out the activity center at the local Christian summer camp for a star-studded Brilliance Uncapped concert featuring B.o.B., Matt and Kim and Yung Skeeter. Notwithstanding artist tweets, attendees were kept relatively quiet about the show and invitations were passed around through word of mouth. Concertgoers were selected through a casting agency. So-called “hydrators” circled the makeshift “love cabin,” as host Damian Dante Wayans—of Dance Flick, uh, fame—referred to it, passing out bottles of Vitaminwater. Brief videos were shown in between acts, documenting the town’s aforementioned dabbles into what was constantly referred to as "brilliance." They often felt like a clunky hybrid of Extreme Makeover and Jurassic Park, thanks to the animatronic dinosaur in the town park—brilliant, right?!
The show took on an intimate club-like atmosphere when the lights went out, complete with a catwalk stage, spotlights and several DJs spinning tracks between songs. Rapper B.o.B. hit the stage first, clad in overalls and animal fur and flanked by a DJ and two sultry backup dancers. The audience, comprised mostly of local twentysomethings and the odd hip elderly couple, waved their hands along to the hip-hop beats. The rest of the two-hour event proceeded in a similar fashion. Matt and Kim brought their signature drum-synth pop riffs, while Santigold offered her M.I.A.-esque dance-pop hodgepodge, inviting the rest of the artists onstage for the finale.
If this all sounds strange, well, it was. The strangest thing, though, is that despite the event's corporate roots and questionable intentions, the people of Boring I spoke to after the show were receptive to the invasion. Even many the stone-faced older folk in the back of the venue.
All photos by Brandon Widder.