Party on Minecraft, in a Brooklyn Club replica
On a recent Friday, thousands of revelers gathered on the roof of a popular Brooklyn club to hear a performance by Alice Glass, the former lead singer of Canadian electronic band Crystal Castles.
The diverse group wore dark green camouflage, electric blue jumpsuits, and pink hair, as they mocked with abandon before the multi-level stage.
This dance party did not violate New York City social distancing rules. It was a virtual concert that took place on Minecraft, the sandbox video game in which players create Lego-like worlds – in this case, a reimagining of Elsewhere, an indie music club in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.
The Minecraft club, which is called Elsewither, was a collaboration between Elsewhere; Open Pit, an engineering group specializing in virtual events; and Heav3n, a traveling LGBTQ party based in Los Angeles.
“The game is about 10 years ahead of live music in terms of the interactive online experience,” said Jake Rosenthal, 32, founder of Elsewhere. “Buying a ticket and a virtual ticket could be part of the new paradigm of a concert hall. “
“When Elsewhere reopens, it will be at some kind of limited capacity,” he said. “It’s a way of bringing experimentation back to what we’re doing. “
About 2,400 Minecraft users traveled to Elsewither between 6 p.m. and midnight on May 8 to see performances by Pussy Riot, Russia’s political punk group; Rina Sawayama, a Japanese R&B pop singer; Pabllo Vittar, a Brazilian drag queen; and 18 others. The audio was also streamed to over 30,000 listeners on the Twitch gaming platform.
In an era when Zoom party fatigue is real and the initial excitement of being able to see your favorite DJs spinning in the comfort of your living room has faded, video games have become another way to throw a party during the night. stopping the coronavirus.
At the end of April, 100 Gecs, the absurd electronic pop duo, organized a virtual concert called #Square Garden on Minecraft with Charli XCX, Cashmere Cat, Benny Blanco and Kero Kero Bonito. And Travis Scott performed a live concert on the Fortnite video game on April 23 and 25, reaching over 12.3 million players. (The next Elsewither is scheduled for June 6.)
Admission to Elsewither was free, but a $ 5 donation on Groundswell provided access to a VIP room and artist conversations on Discord. After each set, the MC would command the audience to type in slogans like “Down with Capitalism” and “Queer Rights,” and the chat flow would explode with a repeated chorus of all-caps phrases.
As thousands of people logged in, only 20-30 avatars appeared to be in the lobby at any given time. It was partly on purpose. An earlier attempt at a Minecraft music festival called Block by Blockwest crashed when too many people tried to join. (It was successfully reprogrammed for May 16 and has attracted 5,000 users.)
At Elsewither, no more than 100 people were allowed on a server at a time, a setup much like having a bouncer at the door. “Technically, it was the smoothest event so far,” said Umru Rothenberg, graphic designer at Open Pit. “We have solved a lot of problems. “
For musical artists, video game concerts make it possible to reach a larger audience, without physical constraints. Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who does not normally play Minecraft, said she appreciated the party’s emphasis on an anti-capitalist and pro-LGBTQ agenda.
“For queer children in Russia, seeing a Russian group play in this amazing queer community online is heartening because they feel like they are represented in some way or another,” she said. “I think if I had been able to log into Minecraft and see a gig with that lineup, it probably would have changed my life in a lot of ways.”