In times of great uncertainty, many of us find solace in music. In particular, many would agree that attending concerts provides the unfettering thrill of emancipation and togetherness. There is always a refreshing sense of novelty and unknown when you go out. But with venues temporarily closing their doors, how can we replicate the cathartic power of live music while practicing social distancing?
As people across the globe are coming to terms with this new reality of life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians and fans have been reinventing ways to recreate the joy of an immersive concert experience under self-quarantine. Some artists turn to live streaming from home to stay connected to their fans. This may suffice for some fans, but for concert junkies, this kind of audio-visual experience is often lukewarm, or even worse, unsatisfactory. The time, length, location, atmosphere, surrounding, crowd, temperature, volume, vision, consciousness and all the other minute details are crucial to the success of the experience. These are held at higher standards when it comes to experiencing vicariously. As such, I recommend that people turn to recorded performances when things were captured at their finest moments. Here, I share my top picks that would help with the emotional turmoils during quarantine — even if only for the length of a set.
The Most Lockdown-like Concert Rhye at Aéroport Charles de Gaulle, Paris
While the concert took place back in 2018, the setting of an empty Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport is eerily symbolic of the current state of a global shutdown of travel, with many airports seeing a sharp decline in air traffic. Yet the scene is not representative of the current situation at the Charles de Gaulle Airport. While several terminals have been shut, the airport remains open. Rhye is an R&B musical project of Canadian singer Mike Milosh. Enjoy his sensual vocals reverberating the empty space with his emotion — the tenderness of his voice will soothe your soul even during the most fragile moment.
Need Some Air? How About a Rooftop Session? DARKSIDE Boiler Room NYC Live Set
If you’ve been feeling claustrophobic and would really benefit from some fresh air, check out DARKSIDE’s intimate rooftop session in New York City. DARKSIDE is where dark electronica meets psychedelic jazz. The seeds were planted at Brown University when multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington was introduced to electronic musician Nicolas Jaar by friends. DARKSIDE as a collaborative project finds their own experimental voice that is dense and sophisticated but also warm and electrifying. Enjoy their prodigal level of creativity as you reminisce about the bustling of NYC that was still the reality a few weeks ago.
Too Many People? How About A Desert? Toro Y Moi – Live from Trona
If the mere vicarious experience of standing in a crowd makes you anxious, you will love Toro y Moi’s performance in the middle of a sunny desert. Frontman Chaz Bear brought the whole band to the Trona Pinnacles in California and recorded a live concert film. It was the summer of 2009 when Toro y Moi emerged as an Internet sensation and subsequently defined the chillwave movement. With the new connectivity of the Internet, chillwave is one of the first genres that developed around a distinct aesthetic free from geographic constraints. Fast forward to the spring of 2020, I cannot find a better time to revisit this band that originated from cyberspace. Enjoy the cinematic experience with the stunning view of the sunset.
Miss People Now? Charlotte de Witte at Awakenings Festival 2019
If you’re craving for a festival experience at home, Charlotte de Witte’s set at the Awakenings Festival last year is right up your alley. Charlotte de Witte is a techno phenomenon. She has made techno accessible to a broader audience while slowly steering the genre to an unexplored left field. As de Witte said, “dark music contains much more emotion.” The melancholic texture of her set adds weight and depth to the poignancy of the story she’s telling through her beats. Perhaps just imagine being among that crowd will make things feel better now.
Miss Cultural Attractions? Peggy Gou at Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille in France
Museum lovers, this is an interesting set you’ll not want to miss. In fact, you can’t even replicate the same experience during your regular museum visits. It is indeed a cultural enrichment to rave next to piles of priceless cultural artifacts. Come rave inside the beautiful Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, France and dance to the mastery of Peggy Gou, a Berlin-based South Korean DJ. Her eclectic mix of techno, house and disco from all across the world stands as the best testimony of this world-class multicultural immersion.
Craving a full-band experience? Bonobo | Live at Melt Festival 2017
British musician Simon Green, also known as Bonobo, stands in a league of his own with his sophisticated compositions that blend electronic and acoustic elements. His performance at Melt Festival in 2017 is a great example of his finesse in incorporating live instrumentation to craft an immersive experience for the audience. Featuring tracks from his Grammy nominated album Migration, his finest work to date, every minute detail of the live set is meticulously crafted by Green’s mastery and further perfected by Szjerdene’s earthly and celestial voice that tap deep into human emotions. Come immerse yourself in Bonobo’s lush, layered and brooding soundscapes.
Just want a chill party? Yaeji Boiler Room New York DJ Set
If the idea of raving at home sounds too exhausting to your quarantined soul, check out Yaeji, one of house music’s smoothest masterminds. Her style blends elements of house music and hip hop with mellow, quiet vocals sung in both English and Korean. The feminine touch of her set represents exactly what the male-dominated electronic music scene needs at the current moment. With the visual projected in the background featuring objects that entice a non-eurocentric psychedelic sensation, Yaeji’s set stands as a refreshing alternative for those who want to break free from the cycle of monoculture.
Back to the classic David August at Boiler Room Berlin
If I have to recommend one DJ set for people to rave at home, David August’s performance at Boiler Room Berlin would immediately come to my mind. It remains one of the most iconic Boiler Room sets on Youtube –– it has attracted a cult following that continues to tout its brilliance five years since its release. The elegant symbiosis of rhythm and tempo is universally mesmerizing to people with music tastes that are all over the place. To this date, the tracklist of the set remains unknown. August even posted an announcement on Facebook saying that all tracks will remain unreleased as he thinks “this is the only way the set will stand for itself in the future.”
This list of recommendations is not meant to encompass all the wonderful ways to vicariously enjoy the sensation of live music. Rather, it is only meant to be an introduction to the plethora of resources readily available on the Internet. Besides the more obvious options of the YouTube channels of Boiler Room, KEXP, Cercle and ARTE Concerts, there are far more options beyond the limitations of these organizations. In particular, this list exclusively features videos on Youtube, but there is a whole nother fabulous world when you go off the dominant online-sharing platform.
Anyway, the current moment is weirdly reminiscent of the sentiments before the start of the semester, yet is drastically different. It’s time to pick a live set and start raving before classes start again.
Stephen Yang is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column Rewiring Technoculture runs alternate Tuesdays this semester.