Social distancing measures barring large crowds have moved performances of all kinds to online mediums. From taped television audiences to concerts and festivals, all live events are now being viewed through Twitch, Zoom, Instagram Live, and other streaming platforms for better and for worse.
Gone are the often complicated logistics of setting up a show. The setup, the commute to the venue, the bookings have all been streamlined. The barrier of entry has been lowered.
On the other hand, promoters now require the technological know-how to produce a show that can engage audiences in a way that can replace the experience of seeing performances live and being amongst fellow fans.
Pacific Plaza label owner Alyx Poska has moved the label’s monthly Downtown Fullerton shows at the Continental to a weekly Twitch-based streaming event called “Virtual Memory” every Saturday at 6 p.m. PST. The label specializes in Vaporwave, an electronic music genre born from the internet known for it’s slowed down, pitched, and chopped renditions of music mostly stemming from the 80s and 90s.
Virtual Memory shows feature prerecorded music to intricate live visuals in ways that would be difficult to replicate in a physical performance venue.
“We have our own emotes that people use when specific things happen and specific emotes for certain guests,” said Poska when asked about audience interaction.
Their most recent show on October 10, for example, was Halloween-themed with artists costumed as other artists. Skeleton Lipstick became Skeleton Chapstick with 3-D lipstick renderings rotating in during his set as fans commented in real-time during the set.
He noted that other artists have not been taking advantage of the online medium and whose creative output has stagnated as a result. Some artists view the pre-recorded sets as being inauthentic. Others have struggled to recreate the high-quality live sound through their own home equipment.
For live-studio audiences, companies like On Camera Audiences have moved to Zoom as their platform of choice, and have been able to accommodate hundreds of participants as a result.
“We got to see judges getting ready, bloopers, and other behind the scenes information,” said Nadine Cedro of New Jersey. “Of course, the audience is more hype in-person, but I really enjoyed the virtual experience.”
Cedro, who has been to three virtual tapings within the year: Steve Harvey, The Masked Singer, and America’s Got Talent note that there were no dress code requirements to view the taping.
Other virtual attendees disagree about the value of such virtual tapings.
“It’s like watching a really low-quality, extra-long version of the show,” said Victor Montano, who had attended a virtual taping of America’s Got Talent.
He said the fans had little opportunity to interact with the performers apart from clapping. This was the case for his in-person experience watching a live taping of the reality show, Big Brother, however, he noted that the Zoom experience took away the main purpose he sought to attend live tapings in the first place.
Promoters, performers, and audiences alike in California will all have to make do with virtual performances as health officials postpone mass gatherings until herd immunity is formed or a COVID-19 vaccine is released to the public.
For more information visit https://www.twitch.tv/allhellbreaksloops for weekly Virtual Memory shows and https://on-camera-audiences.com/shows for live Zoom tapings of television shows.