The day greets Julia with the tender caress of the Saturday midday sun on her cheek. Coffee and toast keep her company while she patiently swipes through the news on her phone. She doesn’t know it yet, but in a few seconds a notification from her friend Vanina will spark joy. For the first time since the city’s -almost-total lockdown, she’ll go see a live show – from her bedroom.
Ever since social isolation started round the country, the music scene has suffered a crippling blow, from centros culturales closing their doors to bars and venues struggling to make ends meet. And, of course, artists all over the country have been faced with the sudden realization that playing live is (until further notice) completely off the table.
But independent artists are nothing but resilient, and this has become increasingly evident as the music scene has quickly adapted to these scary and uncertain times. In the past few months, we’ve seen loads of artists broadcasting themselves anywhere they can to try and reconnect with their audiences in any possible way. This, however, raises the question of how well we can translate the live music experience to the virtual realm and not sacrifice the collective and communal experience and that comes with live shows.
The Live Gram Experience
You’ve surely been bombarded by Instagram Live bubbles in your feed all throughout the quarantine. Truth be told, this has been the go-to place where people get their live music fix. Personally, we’ve decided to reach out to artists far from Capital Federal and into the conurbano where the music scene is usually in the hands of small venues. Here local Instagram accounts have taken the lead to fight the pandemic that’s affected up and coming artists and bands. We had the privilege to speak with Eliana Taccari, the organizer of El Underground Vive, one of the most important cultural spaces enablers from the district of San Martin. She told us that they’ve never been faced with such a difficult challenge since they began organizing shows in 2016.
Powered by nothing but their desire to keep the cultural scene running, Eliana told us that their first festival was a success. Not only did they get the chance to help get the word out through Instagram Live videos on each of the artists’ pages, but they also provided free online courses, ranging from singing lessons to painting classes. Because of this, they are planning to continue in this fashion until the quarantine ends, proliferating art in all its forms hand in hand with the artists. As Eliana says “De eso se trata el under“
The Unexpected Virtual Venue
So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with one of the videogames that revolutionized the indie gaming scene. We are talking of course about Minecraft, the popular build-your-own-world game. You might be thinking “I came to read about the music scene! What the hell does a building simulator have to do with the music scene? Is this just an excuse to talk about videogames, Ezequiel?” Well…no. But I can’t pretend I’m not happy for the excuse to indulge in one of my favorite hobbies.
Raventena came to be when founder Julian Principe decided that everyone should be able to continue experiencing the physicality (or simulated physicality, in this case) of a live show, the sense of meeting a friend at the venue and all those things that transcend the music listening experience when you go see a band play. Something that began as a simple idea quickly spiraled into a quick succession of helping hands reaching out to Julian from all over the city and the country, even! With over 4000 people attending the virtual show, in-game activities such as collaborative building and Player vs Player battles, Raventena checked all of the boxes of a proper festival. Having carried out two successful festivals with artists such as Panchito Villa, Pyura and Renzo Montalbano, and thanks to the support they’ve received through crowdfunding, Julian said they are looking forward to scheduling a new date real soon. So perhaps we’ll have a virtual pint in the near future while we listen to our favorite artists remotely?
The live music experience is, of course, impossible to completely recreate. After all is said and done, these are just semi-soothing alternatives to what is unequivocally an in-person experience. But in the meantime, we need to imagine and design new ways to keep artists and audiences connected. For the time being, virtuality (and the occasional balcony singer) will be our only way to consume live music. But rather than use it And we’d like to view this as a testament to how art prevails even in the direst of times and how we’ll pull through just like we’ve been pulling through all these weeks. We can’t wait to jump into the pogo and sing till our throats give out but for now, we urge you to stay home until everything subsides.