IHeartRadios’ ALTer EGO virtual music festival falls flat in its execution
ALTer EGO is an annual music festival organized by iHeartRadio. This year the performances took place on January 28, however, due to COVID-19, the show was virtual. This allowed fans around the world to watch the performances of their favorite artists safely and without having to worry about the price of a ticket.
The lineup included artists like Foo Fighters, Cage The Elephant, The Black Keys, Billie Eilish and more. Although 12 groups have performed, only the sets from Foo Fighters and Billie Eilish date from this year. The performances of the other 10 artists were covers of previous years of the ALTer EGO festival.
While Foo Fighters and Billie Eilish sets were technically live and unedited, they were pre-recorded. The exciting part about concerts is that the artists perform in real time, but that was not the case with ALTer EGO.
During the performances, fans could interact with each other and react to the show using a chat box displayed on the right side of the screen. While conversations started out as a way for people to connect, it quickly turned into people copying and pasting the same paragraphs over and over again over the night. This function started off nice, but has become a major distraction from the show.
The festival was hosted by Woody from the Los Angeles-based radio show “The woody show. “In between performances, Woody would appear and try to interact with the virtual audience. These segments felt forced and awkward. It was as if he was trying to make it look like the show was in fact live, while in fact, it was very obviously pre-recorded.
On the other hand, it was refreshing to see new performances from Foo Fighters and Billie Eilish, even though they weren’t happening in real time. The quality of the camera and sound was professional, which is an improvement over watching artists try to perform from their homes without the proper equipment.
The festival ended abruptly after three short songs by headliner Billie Eilish. There were no closing remarks from the performers or the host. Instead, the show started replaying from the start, which only confirmed that this “live” festival wasn’t actually live. According to the chat, people thought the show’s ending was a technical difficulty and hoped to see more of Eilish. Fans were disappointed when they realized the sudden end was no accident and the show was, in fact, over.
Although ALTer EGO did not live up to expectations, it went rather well. It seemed perfectly planned and for the most part the performances all started and ended as planned. On the other hand, it would have been nice to see the two headliners play more than three or four songs.
The idea of a virtual music festival is great in theory, but the execution fell flat. Watching musical performances on a computer screen doesn’t compare to physically going to concerts, but until it’s safe to assemble again, it will have to do the trick.