There are some issues a few music pageant you possibly can’t imitate in your personal house. Or no less than you should not. There’s the fixed queues, the beer-covered flooring, and the stink of hundreds of festival-goers packed in like sardines. All of which, and extra, you place up with as a result of the band, the ambiance, and the group is price it. Surprisingly, there are components of the dwell music expertise you can replicate to some extent at house, as I came upon this weekend. There’s one thing very thrilling, and unusually acquainted, a few pageant positioned in digital actuality.
I am speaking about Secret Sky, a music pageant placed on by DJ Porter Robinson and mates. From final 12 months’s extra humble beginnings, Secret Sky has grown exponentially for its second 12 months. I, too, equipped for my second 12 months of lockdown festivalling, rolling out a BenQ X1300i projector I might been fortunate sufficient to supply for evaluate simply in time for the occasion. That was my plan: absorb set after set of stellar music writ massive on my house wall.
I might additionally heard inform of a digital actuality pageant expertise for the Oculus Quest 2, accessible from the headset’s built-in browser. This replaces an in-browser expertise from the pageant’s first 12 months that was fairly neat. The brand new VR expertise piqued my curiosity, although, and I used to be hesitantly excited to strive it out.
I say hesitantly as a result of too typically have I been burned by a VR expertise promising one thing near the true factor and never delivering something shut. In all honesty, I used to be skeptical of how effectively this might dwell as much as expectations, too.
I needn’t have been. The Secret Sky expertise itself was constructed with the serving to hand of Oculus’ personal devs, and I ought to have seen that for the heartening signal it was. This collaboration clearly stored race day hiccups right down to only a few.
The precise world I inhabited jogged my memory of a low-rent Pokemon or Zelda: Breath of the Wild—Main Nintendo vibes, both manner. A vista of rolling hills loosely dealing with a large display, on which a stream performs of the band of the second: Kero Kero Bonito (of Bugsnax fame), Rezz, Wave Racer, Yvette Younger, Laxcity, and Porter Robinson, to call only a few.
Because the pageant progressed, darker auditoriums changed the brilliant sunlit vista to duplicate that gradual descent into the headline act.
On this planet I take the type of a cloaked critter, and I can transfer round as I please by pointing within the common route of the place I need to go and hitting a set off. The place the magic lies is within the a whole bunch of different cute critters surrounding me, each with a geotag of the nation or state the place they’re positioned above their head.
I be a part of hooded figures gathering on a single rock to gaze out over the vista as an emotional drop hits, or collect as a digital entrance row fan in entrance of the primary ‘stage’. Then I leap by way of portals, which take me to the highest of a large tree that overlooks the primary stage space, looking, or to a mirror world pulled proper out of ’90s visualiser.
This is me vibing in the primary space. The music you possibly can hear is from dance producer salute. Oh, and if we get separated we’ll meet over by the tree portal, by the large blue penguin.
Standing there, surrounded by individuals from everywhere in the world having fun with the music simply as you’re, it is fairly one thing. It nearly feels foolish to say how unusually related I felt to these round me. I am dancing in a dimly-lit room a whole bunch, if not hundreds, of miles from these round me, however we’re all sharing the identical expertise in a lot the identical manner—we’re simply taking all of it in, man.
This isn’t a 1:1 pageant expertise, I will admit, however that is in all probability a given. We’re simply not on the level the place VR is an acceptable stand-in for a eight-hour occasion, no matter which may be. No VR headset is comfy sufficient, even, Elite Strap or no. I hung out in Secret Sky’s digital actuality expertise at brief, intermittent intervals, taking day out to throw shapes in entrance of the projector.
What the Secret Sky VR expertise did handle, although, was to persuade me that VR does not make a half-bad gig platform. In actual fact, I believe future VR headsets may make for an outstanding one, with somewhat finessing. There’s part of me that is extra excited for the way forward for dwell VR experiences now than I’ve been about future VR video games—not for an absence of innovation within the latter, I am simply satisfied dwell music has a wealth of largely untapped potential in digital actuality.
Regardless of proudly owning a few tickets for a gig this December, dwell music feels all too distant nonetheless. Even gigs of the previous really feel a long-forgotten reminiscence. I had thought there to be no equal, both: music festivals are simply considered one of many issues on maintain in the interim, and subsequently it could be an extended whereas earlier than a speaker would as soon as once more shake these weary bones. But by some means, with stunning simplicity, Secret Sky managed to fill that void, and in doing so persuade me that there are lots of makes use of for digital actuality but to be explored. And, excitingly, but to be perfected.
If future festivals provided a less expensive all-digital ticket in VR, would I select that over the queues, beer sludge, and sweat? Most frequently I will nonetheless take the in-person occasion, however given the choice on a Monday night time with nothing a lot on I might in all probability not flip down a few of the finest festivals the world over, both.