I don’t have attendance data yet, but the Rift Tour with Ariana Grande, which ended this weekend, was arguably the new biggest virtual music event in human history. And in the previous one, with Travis Scott – organized in the world of the same game, Fortnite – some 45 million people attended, so the bar was hung high. Grande has “appeared” online several times for residents of different time zones. Musically, it was a dozen or so minutes long medley of her various songs, with additional songs such as Diplo and Marshmello. But, of course, carefully mixed in the studio – the concert is out of the question. Anyway, who said that a concert would be more interesting in this situation? I will certainly not be one of those people myself – my avatar took part in the second show on Saturday and it was a very well-prepared interactive experience – yes, there was a group shooting at a monster, but with a nice ceasefire in the game, where every day all measure to each other, shaking a hand to a random person next to you, then walking up the MC Escher-style stairs, flying in bubbles like from a performance of The Flaming Lips, jumping on the water and riding a rainbow pony. I don’t know how it was received by the game community, whose favorite pastime was put on hold for the Rift Tour – ponies probably won’t turn anyone who likes to shoot a sniper rifle – but the thing had the desired aspect of immersion and it was worth seeing / experiencing. If only because a future is slowly being forged here.
I am aware of the fact that virtual concert events have been forging at least from time to time Second Life, which is a good two decades. But they’re still growing, and no other platform is as good as Fortnite (due to its massiveness) conditions for their organization. So it seems that this is a future reserved for the greatest and the richest. And it was the only thing I regretted on the occasion of the Rift Tour. Grande is the equivalent of Disney in these conditions – it brings what the research says, reaches a wide audience, has an image characteristic of cartoon characters. It is suitable, and the risk of using it for three days by a medium that could earn an amount with six zeros in such three days was not great. In addition, it is a woman after several men shown at these special events (there was also the aforementioned Marshmello), a significant expansion of the field, also important when you take into account the preferences of the players: like about 3/4 of them are men, but in the proportions found in the game of avatars, I have impression, it’s closer to 50:50. The avatar is no longer a reflection of gender, if it ever was.
So we have blockbusters in this new form of experience, but no proprietary cinema yet. Yes, there are those who try – the pandemic edition of Unsound gave a good insight into this sphere – but on the design and programming side you need more money than in the film, where proprietary cinema is usually financed by profits brought by mass hits, and often directly from the public checkout.
Let’s look at music from this angle Claire Rousay, one of the heroines of 2021 in music – she released a great album A Softer Focus, now another duo with More Eaze, that is Mari Maurice (I wrote about the previous one last year). It is plastic enough to be immersed in it without the help of 3D rendering, it builds an intimate atmosphere, taking Luc Ferrari’s acuzmatic experience as an example: the sounds of everyday life taken out of context become a new material, a stimulus for the imagination. But all of this is overlapped by very modern, freely flowing song forms. With an outright hit Smaller Pools, which is not that far off the aesthetics of modern pop – not least because of the digital processing of vocals. However, it is still created with a spontaneous gesture, and there is little room for spontaneous gestures in the video game industry.
Yes, playing in the world of Claire Rousay and More Eaze’s music would be completely different than Fortnite. It would probably be more of a walking simulator, and in space Fortnite it would be necessary to use mainly tents and fires present somewhere on the mountain tops. Or stay in the kitchen longer than to replenish your ammo supplies (containers with the latter can be found everywhere). It would be an experience that goes against the corporate ideas of Epic Games, which does not mean that I would not like to experience it at least once, at least once, in the interactive world of sound imaginations of these artists.
CLAIRE ROUSAY & MORE EAZE An Afternoon Whine, Ecstatic 2021, 7-8 / 10