The Pretender: Livestream concerts try to emulate rather than expand music connection
Last week, we talked about how the Puscifer live stream concert missed out on the essential element of audience interaction. Despite their efforts, the Foo Fighters were also challenged to connect with their fans during their recent live stream concert from the Roxy Theatre.
With current live stream concert performances, as a viewer, you could be among thousands, or it could be just you. The video could be live or recorded. Does the band even know that you're there?
Dave Grohl always comes across as a genuine and generous person, full of passion for a musical connection with his fans. His sincerity was clear, but with no mechanism to give back to the band, the imposed loneliness leaves you empty and a bit sad. It doesn't have to be this way.
You could feel that emptiness when Dave Grohl broke the fourth wall and spoke to the viewers at home. He told the audience, "I want everybody to sing ‘My Hero’ by yourself in front of your iPad. I know it seems embarrassing, but you can only imagine what it’s like on stage. Let’s share some of this awkward energy on stage. Because It won’t be long before we get to do this together.”
The Foo Fighters played a solid performance which would have been amazing to see in a live venue. However, by denying the audience any way to engage from home, or interact with each other, there is no sense of the weight of the crowd. You simply cannot tell its a live performance and there's no sensation of sharing a moment with other humans. The imposed loneliness as a limited concert diminishes the experience when it might've found its own new artistic expression.
Feedback is key
To enhance the element of presence, the audience has to see itself and the artists need to see them too. In a live in-person performance, the artist responds to those around them and create a feedback loop. Without that feedback, the performance lacks responsiveness and depth.
So what does feedback look like? Well, on Twitch, you have the chat and the interactive elements that the performer sets up for their audience. On other platforms, why not create an interaction with the lights? Or maybe have a selection of keyboard commands that responds in a specific way and the aggregate fills up to reach a crescendo reaction? Maybe have a vote on which song to sing next, or at the very least, a way to signify appreciation without requiring audience members to have a camera or microphone (which could disrupt the performance).
Acts come from creative backgrounds. Why aren't they using their creativity to solve this problem? Their gig is going to be hollow until they embrace the medium rather than rebelling against it.