How Artists Got Creative During Quarantine
by Megan Gregoire
To vaguely quote Don McLean in American Pie, March felt like the month where the music died. As the coronavirus pandemic hit, singers and bands across the world made the difficult decision to cancel or postpone their upcoming tours and performances. Harry Styles and Tame Impala, among others, were forced to reschedule huge world tours, leaving fans disappointed and wanting their live performance fix. Left to their own devices, musicians used the quarantine to get creative in connecting with their audiences—some releasing new music about the pandemic, others using platforms such as Instagram Live and Twitch to broadcast performances. Check out our list of musicians who got especially creative during the coronavirus pandemic!
The LA indie trio, responsible for hits “Are You Bored Yet ft. Clario” and “Scrawny” have kept busy during quarantine. Following the cancellation of several tour dates, the band created a “Virtual World Tour” experience, a set of four separately recorded, unique shows at LA’s legendary music venue The Roxy. To make the experience more personal for their fans, the trio allowed fans to create the setlist for one of the four shows and performed the entirety of their debut album “Nothing Happens” at another. In addition, the band will release an EP, titled “Remote” on Oct. 23: a set of six songs recorded during the coronavirus pandemic.
Experimental group 100 gecs used an unlikely platform when live-streaming their performances during quarantine. Instead of popular live-streaming services like Instagram Live, the duo held a festival called “Square Garden” on Minecraft. The festival, which they described as an “open pit Minecraft show” featured performances from Kero Kero Bonito, Charli XCX and Dorian Electra. In addition, 100 gecs released “1000 gecs & The Tree of Clues,” a remix album of their debut album “1000 gecs,” with features from Fall Out Boy, Rico Nasty and Injury Reserve.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Whitney used the quarantine to expand their musical style, while also shedding light on important causes. In commemoration of Juneteenth, the Chicago band held a live-streamed concert and fundraiser and were able to donate over $8,000 to several Chicago-based Black organizations and charities. Starting in February, the band began to record a cover album titled “Candid,” which was finally released on Aug. 14. To celebrate the release, Whitney hosted two live-streamed, unique performances at the SPACE venue in Evanston, Illinois.
With the release of “Midnight Sky” in August, and her (amazing) cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” in late September, Cyrus has been on a roll creating new projects and fine tailoring her music. Aside from music, throughout quarantine Cyrus hosted a series on Instagram Live called “Bright Minded.” Episodes included interviews with celebrity guests including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Selena Gomez and Elton John; their discussions ranged topics like mental health and self-care, with a focus on certain activists and charities, such as Cyrus’s own Happy Hippie Foundation.
A postponed tour and cancelled tour dates didn't stop Korean pop sensation BTS from giving a one-of-a-kind experience to their fans, a.k.a. the ARMY. In April, BTS announced "Bang Bang Con,” a series of full concerts from 2014 to 2020 uploaded onto YouTube for free. Fans hosted parties for each live-streamed concert from all around the world, with performances including a show from their 2017 “Wings” Tour live in Seoul and their 2015 HYYH live concert. The group also released a book called “Learn Korean with BTS,” which includes flashcards and a special pen that translates the book from English to Korean.
LA rapper Bryce Vine used quarantine to connect on a deeper level with his fans. Vine released a playlist on Spotify called “Good Songs for Bad Times,” a collaborative playlist allowing fans to add songs that they are listening to during quarantine. According to Vine, the playlist will be used as a way to find inspiration for his upcoming unreleased album. Vine also expanded over to YouTube to start his “Six Feet of Separation” series, a weekly show which features interviews with Quinn XCII, LA-based small business owners, and charitable businesses such as “&pizza.”