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Is this the future of live events?


Published May 28, 2020

In the thick of a nation-wide quarantine, Travis Scott, a musical artist known for out-of-control, energetic performances, released a new song. This came with a virtual performance in the popular game Fortnite, seen by over 27.7 million people on April 23, according to a Digital Trends article, making Scott millions. 

Rapper Travis Scott just released his new song “The Scotts” on the popular game Fortnite. (Photo by Kenny Sun)

With every passing day of a seemingly endless quarantine, releasing entertainment or performing “virtually” makes more sense. Musical performances, movie releases and opening nights of plays will be experienced in the home indefinitely. 

Another virtual success, the online release of “Trolls: World Tour,” made nearly $100 million in three weeks, according to an article published by CNBC. This children’s movie may start making movie theaters obsolete because of the success it achieved without having an opening night in the theaters. It’s hard to imagine a future where going to the theaters to watch a movie with friends or going to see a favorite artist live isn’t an option. While virtual events may be welcome distractions in the meantime, they feel far from the real thing. 

Graduating CHS senior Joaquin Carlson, who regularly performed both on and off campus before shelter in place, has performed a couple times live on Instagram. 

“A good and captivating live performance is a two-way interaction between artists and the audience,” Carlson explains. “It’s still fun to play music to a livestream, but it doesn’t feel the same without feedback.”

CHS senior singer/songwriter Mac Keller has performed a couple of times virtually as well, and misses performing with friends the most.

“Obviously [performing] was a lot easier to do since I wasn’t looking at a crowd of people,”
Keller says, “but I was more insecure, because there wasn’t any distraction. I wasn’t chatting with my friends like a normal performance.”

Content creator and CHS thespian Brian Porter recognizes how a performance in front of a camera is a completely different experience. Porter can be seen in the spring’s production of “Bye Bye Birdie,” which never had an opening night and can be found on PadreTV.org.  

“There’s no connection between the audience and the performers,” Porter explains. “It feels a little odd, but we try to do the same job we always do.”

Without a doubt, watching a live performance on a phone screen feels odd for the audience too. Watching Carlson perform over the phone, the high-energy performances he’s done many times live feel like a different world. Attending Travis Scott’s “virtual concert” feels empty and unsatisfying, in sharp contrast to the flame-saturated, ground-shaking performances he usually delivers. 

Although virtual events may feel more distant, they still may support artists in the meantime. Right now, one can donate to CHS’ theater department on the PadreTv website. This may soon replace ticket sales as an income source for the drama department. Carlson knows of established local artists who are able to make income off of donations from virtual concerts. 

“For people getting started, or making money from gigs at restaurants and farmer’s markets, doing livestreams will not bring much money or attention,” Carlson says.

As the days of shelter in place blend together, it becomes even more tempting to just accept things as they are. While digital concerts aren’t the best, there are certainly more important issues to care about around us. For now, digital events are a great way to keep performers performing and audiences watching. 

But when things start to settle and life becomes a little more normal, let’s hope nobody forgets the feeling of their first concert, their first play or the first time they took a date to the movies.

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