When EDM producer Marshmello held the first virtual concert on Fortnite in February of 2019, The Verge called the digital event "an exciting glimpse of the future." "Even if you're not a huge fan of electronic music or have never heard of the EDM producer Marshmello, Fortnite''s live in-game concert was still a shockingly stunning sight to behold -- it was also an unprecedented moment in gaming," author Nick Statt wrote of the event.
Yet unbeknownst to most everyone, this "unprecedented moment" would precede an unprecedented year, setting the stage -- literally -- for the future of concerts, whether we like it or not. As we all know, the world is an entirely different place than it was when Marshmello first graced the screens of Fortnite players everywhere with his 10-minute live set.
We all know the story -- the pandemic hit, the world stopped, slowly restarted, and any day now, will likely stop again for good reason, leaving us staying inside, Zooming our parents and holding steadfast to our social distance pod, with no clear end in sight. Concerts have vanished for the foreseeable future, with Lollapalooza's founder telling Business Insider that he doesn't expect them to return until 2021, with one survey finding that over a third of concert attendees between the ages of 21 and 35 won't attend concerts before there is a vaccine for Covid-19, according to Cosmopolitan. To the dismay of most everyone, it seems the sweaty, drunk euphoria of seeing your favorite artist with your best friends is nothing more than a distant memory -- at least if you're not down to get weird with it.
During the height of the lockdown in April, rapper Travis Scott famously held a concert on Fortnite, garnering an "audience" of 12.3 million, according to Mobile Marketer, beating Marshmallo's record by approximately 1.6 million attendees. Last month, pop star Ava Max held an album launch party on Roblox, with the game looking to venture more into live music.
For the foreseeable future, concerts are going to look pretty freaking weird, a fact we all have to accept. As this unfolds, I can't help but wonder how those magical moments of live music -- holding your best friend close and shouting the lyrics to your favorite song, reuniting with your fragmented group after losing each other in a music festival, crowd surfing for the first time (like I did at my first concert in NYC when I was 18) -- will adapt.