It was slated to be the greatest show Hawkins, Indiana would ever see. But, according to legend, a tour bus headed to the Doritos Music Fest ’86 crashed and all the musicians on the bus were transported into another dimension. Which is why on June 23 you can tune into the “Live From the Upside Down” concert featuring a trio of 1980s legends — The Go-Go’s, Soft Cell and Corey Hart — plus special guest Charli XCX rocking the scariest alternate universe in the midwest in the wind-up to the premiere of season 4 of Netflix’s Stranger Things.
“When you’re there it’s very real and I’ve never performed in a space like that,” Charli tells Billboard about the surreal, spooky spectacle of zapping into the iconic other dimension of Stranger Things to rock out alongside some of her biggest new wave heroes. “It was very special and it really felt like I was there… there were things falling from the sky and branches and undergrowth everywhere.”
Unlike the musicians, attendees will have to do a bit of work to enter the spooky space. The only ways to get a ticket for the show is to pick up a bag of Doritos or Doritos 3D Crunch snacks from the show’s sponsor featuring the limited-edition Stranger Things packaging or go to Snacks.com to reserve a ticket. There will also be exclusive “golden” tickets hidden across three 3D Crunch flavors — Three Cheese, Spicy Ranch and Chili Cheese Nacho — that will earn the winners an official replica of the guitar featured in the upcoming season.
Hart, best known for wearing his 1984 debut single, “Sunglasses at Night” and “Never Surrender,” tells Billboard the pitch for the unusual show struck him as “quintessential, innovative and cool.” The singer, who boasts that he’s confident he’d crush just about anyone in a Stranger Things trivia contest — unless, of course, he was up against Gaten Matarzzo’s Dustin Henderson — didn’t have to look far for his retro stage look, which he accessorized with some “signature bracelets” that he wore on some of his classic album covers.
Not for nothing, but back in the first episode of season 3 Hart’s “Never Surrender” was blasted by Eleven and Mike in what the singer called a “sweet scene” in Eleven’s room where “the kid just stole my heart.”
Soft Cell’s Almond is a huge fan of the show and said his teenage nephews were “crazy excited” about the idea of their uncle singing in the Upside Down. “It is such a mad thing to do that I had to accept it,” said Almond. The “Tainted Love” singer was determined to “lean into the darker side of things” for the show, especially considering that he would like be surrounded by the show’s signature baddies, the Demogorgons.
“I’ve played so many unique places, but the Upside Down is definitely a first, so I had to get in the Upside Down mood,” says Almond, who adds that he most relates to put-upon police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour), if only because of his “world-weariness… constantly beaten down but still being funny.”
For the Go-Go’s, the legendarily hard-charging punky pop group who will wow fans with hits including “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” the gig was strange, but probably not the strangest, according to singer Belinda Carlisle. “We’ve done a lot of weird things through the years and we got to dress up in real 80s clothes and make-up,” with drummer Gina Schock joking, “we feel like we’ve been living in the Upside Down our whole lives!”
The band had a blast, though Schock notes that in cutting floor footage you won’t see guitarist Jane Wiedlin and bassist Kathy Valentine got knocked down a few times, guitarist Charlotte Caffey got hit in the face and she fell off the kit in the world that Wiedlin teases is “super slimy and creepy” and filled with a new type of flying Demo-horror creature that fans will meet this season. “There was really a lot going on, much more so than at a usual concert,” Wiedlin teases.
For huge fan Charli XCX, the show was a no-brainer, especially because of the “iconic” line-up she shared the stage with. “Thanks to this world I ended up with [Marc Almond’s] number and I can spam him fan girl stuff all the time,” she boasts, adding that the show’s vibe perfect connects with the 1980s aesthetic of her most recent album, Crash.
As for how she prepared to play a show in character that purportedly took place 6 years before she was even born, Charli says she definitely “dressed the part… as if I’d been trapped in the Upside Down for a while, which I suppose I have been in the context of this show.” That means fans can expect “very big hair, stompy shoes and huge eye makeup,” as well as a very exciting on-stage collaboration with one of the other acts that is still a mystery for now.
And, in case you were wondering, Charli is a “Cool Ranch girl until I die” and Carlisle is definitely a Nacho Cheese head. In addition to the show, there will also be ’80s-inspired merch to go with the gig, including hats, bags, t-shirts and posters available here, as well as a new limited-time flavor released to coincide with the show: Doritos 3D Crunch Three Cheese.
Check out some images from “Live From the Upside Down” and preview video below.