Music

The Music Beat: Livestream Concerts Are Keeping Me Alive

Mary Grace Ritter | The PhoenixAll Time Low performed an acoustic set in St. Louis in 2015. The band's livestream brought back memories of this for A&E editor Mary Grace Ritter.

It’s no secret, life is scary right now.

This also isn’t a secret, but many of you probably don’t know I have anxiety. This means a lot of times my brain likes to make things seem scary, even if they’re not. So having something to genuinely worry about has been an interesting change of pace. 

Thankfully, my mental state hasn’t gotten all that bad. But as someone who uses day-to-day interactions with friends in art classes and pals in the newsroom to distract from whatever my anxiety is clinging to at the time, this social distancing thing has been weird for me and my brain.

At least I’m not alone. With concerts canceled, all of my favorite musicians are also stuck at home, probably bored out of their minds. Many are turning to livestreams on Instagram and Twitch to entertain themselves and all their fans in the same position.

Not only is it entertaining, it’s much easier for me to actually be productive when I feel like I’m just hanging out with Alex O’Connor, better known as Rex Orange County. Watching him perform the playful acoustic track “Corduroy Dreams” live from his home in the U.K. makes my task of making a sandwich much more exciting. 

Some magical combination of the music and knowing that it’s live creates this comforting space. It’s nice to know they’re really on the other end of this stream performing in real time — well, likely with a minor delay.

Christo Bowman, lead singer of Bad Suns, premiered two of the indie-pop band’s unreleased tracks during his Instagram Live. I don’t remember what I was trying to get done while he was singing, I just know that hour of music and song backstories was easier and more enjoyable than an hour without.

Alternative band The Wrecks has established a schedule where a different member of the band will be going live on the band’s Instagram every Saturday through Tuesday. I watched lead singer Nick Anderson, who was assigned Saturdays, pull different people into the livestream through the magic of technology.

Most of those people were members of his family. Anderson brought his sisters, mom, dad, brother and baby niece into the stream at different points, leading to classic family bantering which was equal parts hysterical and wholesome. It was exactly the content that my homesick self needed, as I’m sheltering in place in my Chicago apartment and my family is in St. Louis. 

Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low recently took to Twitch to perform two singles from the band’s recent album “Wake Up Sunshine,” released April 3. The streaming platform is often used by gamers, but recently hosted Stream Aid 2020, where creators of all types entertained to help raise over $2.5 million for COVID-19 relief, according to its Twitter.

Gaskarth’s performance took me back to a simpler time. Back in high school, I was lucky enough to win tickets to an All Time Low acoustic show, so hearing the grit in Gaskarth’s voice paired with his acoustic guitar brought back fond memories and teary eyes.

They might not be the crowded concerts I know and love, but I’m happy to find this comfort where I can.

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