Live Music In the Time of COVID

Portion of virtual flyer for Village of Love festival by Planned Parenthood

Without the obnoxious fans yelling, “I love you” every five seconds or the flash of cell phones going off, viewing a virtual music festival through my laptop was a memorable and exhilarating experience. 

On Oct. 25, 2020,  Planned Parenthood’s virtual benefit festival, Village of Love, was an attempt to bring the experience of live music through pre-recorded performances of various musicians. 

The addition of a virtual merch booth and a global chatbox filled with strangers was an exciting feature that made it feel like a real-life event. The virtual merch booth included shirts and rugs.  

Every musician had a unique set, whether it was a professional recording with multiple cameras and angles or a simple at-home recording. 

Some of the performances that stood out to me were Bright Eyes, Mac DeMarco, Eric Andre. Devendra Banhart, Tenacious D, and Phoebe Bridgers,

My favorite indie emo folk band Bright Eyes performed their new single “Miracle of Life” and a beautiful rendition of “Unwed Fathers” by John Prine. I let my inner fanboy get the best of me when I yelled, “I love you, Bright Eyes,” to my laptop screen. I never yell at concerts, but this time I had to. I wasn’t embarrassed or causing annoyance.

Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco didn’t disappoint at being weird. A green screen with Frank Sinatra’s face occupied DeMarco as he sang “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads” and “ You Make Me Feel So Young” in the style of Frank Sinatra. He also had a bass guitar throughout his set, but he didn’t play it.

Comedian Eric Andre sang “Let Me Try Again” in the style of Frank Sinatra as well.  The lack of professionalism was hilarious. Andre also had a green screen with Sinatra’s face, but behind it was a television showing South Park. 

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Venezuelan-American singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart just rambled on about love and made awkward faces in the process. He is outstanding, though; check out his album “Cripple Crow.”

Jack Black from Tenacious D did a cover of “Barracuda.” by Heart. I couldn’t take him seriously because I just pictured him as Nacho Libre. A great film, by the way. 

Even though Phoebe Bridgers makes a meme of herself on Instagram, her performance of “Black Boys on Mopeds 1990” by Sinéad O’Connor was terrific. I can’t forget about the 13-second note she held when singing “Motion Sickness.”

I appreciate it when musicians create new arrangements for their songs or covers. In my opinion, it gives the music a new life. 

The festival also included a raffle for various prizes such as a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe guitar amp and a Fender Telecaster guitar. The tickets sold for $5 apiece. However, I did not participate in it. 

Throughout the event, there was a silent auction that participants could bid to win signed art and vinyl records by various artists. 

With a $15 price tag and over a dozen performances, I believe this festival was worth its price because it had some of my favorite artists, and it was for a good cause that provides reproductive health care.

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