It's no secret that lots of musical artists — DJs, instrumentalists, or otherwise — have been laying low since the novel coronavirus became a global concern. With concert halls emptied and festivals canceled, many find themselves sidelined and missing crucial income. So where are musicians staging performances without physical audiences? Where do crowds gather in the midst of a pandemic? The answers can be found online.
Many music makers have decided to stream themselves performing virtual concerts, DJ sets, and similar endeavors using platforms like Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube. New Times has compiled a few of its favorites from last weekend. Take a look, and who knows — you might find yourself encouraged to fire up your own video-streaming app and document your creative process for whoever's watching.
In addition to opening a Discord server for all the "mutants" in her fandom, DJ/producer/performance artist Arca has been streaming on Twitch as she composes on the digital audio workshop she knows best, Ableton. Arca's live feed offers the chance to see one of today's most popular avant-garde electronic musicians making music in real-time; it's a rare glimpse into the creative process that might not have been possible but for the current global catastrophe. If you're a producer, tune in and you may even learn a thing or two, or get lost combing through the archived videos on her page. (Note: Twitch doesn't allow embeds for all videos, so we've embedded Arca's latest formal release, the 62-minute "@@@@@," above. Here's a link to her Twitch page.)
By the time this is over, Ben Gibbard may be able to release an entire album of songs he performed while self-isolating. The Death Cab for Cutie frontman's latest tour was canceled, and he's since been stuck at home like the rest of us. Fortunately, he's been taking to YouTube every afternoon to broadcast himself playing guitar. There's been original material — he premiered a new song called "Life in Quarantine" — but Gibbard's "Live From Home" series has been notable for the impressive number of covers he's shared: there've been renditions of Bob Dylan, Def Leppard, New Order, Phoebe Bridgers, Radiohead, Rilo Kiley, the Shins, and more.
We've all had to make sacrifices in this time of peril, and Madeon is no exception: He's had to replace his DJ setup with an ironing board and his adoring audiences with a cat sitting on his windowsill. Using a mixer, a couple of launchpad controllers, a Beats Pill, and a laptop with Ableton installed, the DJ/producer put out his first "Ironing Board Session" over the weekend, playing his own bright, house music-inspired material alongside cuts by Daft Punk, Porter Robinson, and others. EDM fans may have missed him at Ultra due to the festival's cancellation, but he streamed an excellent set to make up for the missed gig.
Boiler Room, more than any other platform in dance music, is well-positioned to adapt to the constraints of quarantining, so it has recruited a handful of DJs for a series called "Streaming in Isolation." Thanks to the video service, would-be ravers were able to experience a set full of unheard material from London-by-way-of-Australia techno DJ/producer Mall Grab, who — Inshallah, by the grace of God, and all that stuff — will play a back-to-back set with Miami's own Danny Daze at III Points in May. It's not exactly the same as an ordinary Boiler Room — the quasi-voyeuristic ability to scan the cool, snazzily dressed people in the club and analyze their reactions to the music is obviously absent — but considering the circumstances, it'll do.
Rex Orange County
"I'm only gonna do this once, and then I'm gonna throw my phone in a river." So said Rex Orange County during his recent Instagram Live concert, although he may have just been reflecting his mood back at the viewers more than declaring any specific intent. Many artists have taken to performing on IG Live to make up for canceled tours and, presumably, stave off boredom. One of the best things about these shows has been their interactivity. To wit, Rex supplemented his lovely piano playing and singing — selections included original songs and covers of Randy Newman, Tyler the Creator, and Lil Uzi Vert — by responding to fan questions and comments with a slight sense of, shall we say, mild panic? "Am I OK? Obviously not! No one's OK!"
Has your quarantine been missing something... rockin'? You're in luck: Oh Sees (formerly Thee Oh Sees) has decided to put up a whole video of the group rehearsing its next album. Will it be a good album? My friend, you must be new here! Oh Sees, possibly the most absurdly prolific noise-heavy rock band west of the Sierra Nevada, is beyond good or bad. They've put out so many albums — at least one per year for the last ten years, and more before that — that it's pointless to measure any of them against anything but each other. Just sit back, rock out, admire the technical proficiency of the two drummers, and check out the bassist's sick-ass Bernie Sanders T-shirt.
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Douglas Markowitz is a former music and arts editorial intern for Miami New Times. Born and raised in South Florida, he studied at Sophia University in Tokyo before earning a bachelor's in communications from University of North Florida. He writes freelance about music, art, film, and other subjects.