Many cities in China are still quarantined to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus, which drives most activities online. Everyday activities such as grocery ordering and university classes are affected, as well as live entertainment. Music venues are closed across the country, making the country's live music scene “temporarily dead and silent”. A report by Hyperallergic (which builds up earlier pieces by RADII and CDM ) shows how China's musicians have turned to life. Streaming to perform at virtual festivals and club nights.
The report says that bands and DJs are turning their homes into performance spaces that have clubs, record labels, and promoters on board. The options range from techno to rock to pop. Most of the action takes place on BiliBili, a Chinese video sharing website. The website offers bullet chats, a feature that overlays user comments on the screen to make users feel more present. "It's like going to a karaoke studio or being in a mosh pit without leaving your house," said one singer to Hyperallergic .
Celebrity indie record labels like Ruby Eyes and Modern Sky stream "showcases" for artists on their roster, and venues like Shanghai's Yuyintang are even considering online ticket sales. Many of them are hosted on the live streaming site BiliBili, which contains an important social function, bullet comments or 弹 幕 ("danmu"), which make these events an active expression of community and social bond and not just passive experiences , Bullet Comments are a mix of discussion forum threads, live chat, and participatory art that create a powerful online approach to the sociability of real life and a harsh atmosphere that resembles a successful party. Comments on a video fly across the video screen like interruptions or encouragement from a virtual audience.
Elsewhere, other aspects of the impact of the concert industry in China have been brought to light. BiliBili himself joined the mix and teamed up with an organizer to produce a series of concerts at home, as reported by Variety . Billboard estimates that approximately 20,000 concerts scheduled to take place between January and March have been canceled or postponed.
The play by Hyperallergic gives a closer look at how China's musicians and fans not only keep the scene afloat, but create community at a time of imposed isolation. A photo of a punk band that offers live streaming in masks and a hazmat suit to amuse people might be the best way to sum things up. It is necessary to make the best of a bad situation.
Read the play by Hyperallergic for more details along with flyers, sets and links to watch live streaming shows yourself.