10 Livestreams That Have Made the Pandemic a Little More Bearable

The future of live music had never been as uncertain as it was last March, when the coronavirus shut down concerts and put our health at risk. When it became clear that gigs weren’t coming back anytime soon, artists had to look elsewhere to make up for the lost revenue. Livestreams became that apparent path. They acted as an alternative to the show-going experience that don’t necessarily make up for the loss but still give us something to connect with. From what we’ve seen from bands in the year since, creativity abounds. Take a look at 10 musical acts that have turned their livestreams into a virtual art form, making the pandemic a little more bearable for fans in the process.

Anberlin: A full discography, one album at a time

Anberlin made their triumphant return to the alternative rock scene in 2018, but they only had the chance to tour sparingly before the pandemic hit. But that hasn’t slowed down the Florida rockers, who have been hinting at a comeback album (when it comes out is still yet to be known). They’ve also consistently performed via livestream, celebrating their entire back catalogue in the process. Every stream is a different full-album playthrough, so far basking in the nostalgia and narratives of their first four records — with all sorts of sweet merch along with them. This includes Cities, a scene classic that stands the test of time and still makes up a good chunk of regular Anberlin setlists.

August Burns Red: Holiday happiness (and metal)

August Burns Red had unfortunate timing with the release of their most recent LP, Guardians, which came out right as stay-at-home orders took effect last year. The record may not quite have been up to par with the band’s previous metalcore scorchers, but it’s another lesson in solidity for the Pennsylvania bunch. Despite the inability to tour the new material, ABR stayed connected with their fans before the year’s end with a holiday-themed livestream set (decor and all): Christmas Burns Red. In addition to their heavy hits, the group also worked in a handful of instrumental Christmas songs to bridge the gap — a fitting treat for listeners, who have grown accustomed their renditions of “Carol of the Bells” and others.

Dashboard Confessional: A virtual emo comeback

The pandemic has brought its challenges, and for Chris Carrabba, a lot of it came from a hospital bed. The emo singer/songwriter suffered severe injuries in a motorcycle accident last July. Carrabba left the hospital weighing just 117 pounds, and the road to recovery was a challenging one. But he came out on the other side stronger by the time he returned to the (virtual) stage in February of this year. His first performance since the accident, the Dashboard Confessional namesake brought several other musician friends of his onstage for a night of fan favorites: big hits like “Screaming Infidelities” and “Hands Down” and deeper cuts like “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most” and “So Long, So Long.”

Every Time I Die: Quirks, skits, and metalcore

Every Time I Die axed their annual holiday show last year due to the coronavirus, but that didn’t stop the Buffalo natives from quenching our metalcore appetites. They prepared all sorts of goodies in a livestream version of the show, which appeared like something you’d see on Adult Swim. The band performed skits, played songs, and hosted guest celebrities in talk show format (which I assume was them editing together Cameo segments?). On top of that, they’ve also made the long and impatient wait for new material a little more bearable with some new songs, one of which (“AWOL”) they emailed to fans who purchased the livestream. (Let’s hope the new album drops sometime this year).

The Get Up Kids: A prom band to write home about

Something to Write Home About is one of the most influential emo albums of all-time, so it only felt right that The Get Up Kids would celebrate it with a special livestream performance. They returned to their stomping grounds of Lawrence, KS to the one-room White Schoolhouse. Complete with cake, tuxedos, and banners, the band made it feel like prom night all over again — awkward teen angst and all. Even more fitting was that the set came on Valentine’s Day, giving nice company to those alone and seeking solace in the emo crooning of “Holiday,” “Valentine,” and “Ten Minutes.” It also came as the main act following Dashboard Confessional’s livestream, which both bands smartly cross-promoted.

nothing,nowhere.: An emo mountain quarantine

Joe Mulherin, the mastermind behind nothing,nowhere., took quarantine as a chance to get away in the Vermont backwoods where he’s from. After all, he says he’s “sick of big city noise” on his 2018 song “Reminiscer.” The mountainside provided the perfect natural backdrop for a live show, and that’s where Mulherin and his crew filmed Isolation Assembly. Everything about it was vintage nothing,nowhere., from the camcorder-quality footage to the carefully plucked guitars. In addition to the songs that have become favorites among his cult following, he also broke out several new songs — including several “(Nightmare,” “Pretend,” and “Death”) that would make the cut on his recently released LP, Trauma Factory.

Silent Planet: From the community to the screen

Silent Planet has made a career of connecting with their fans, which they call “lovers” in social media posts. Unfortunately, the pandemic brought live music to a halt and, resultantly, Garrett vocalist Russell’s nightly meet-and-greets. After a period of inactivity (which was much needed, as Russell had sought mental health help due to mental health issues while touring Europe), the band eventually returned to the stage for a digital version of their high-octane metal sets called Terminal. During the virtual show, they teased a new song, “The Sound of Sleep,” along with their regular routine of “Native Blood,” “Orphan,” and others. Despite not quite hitting an hour, it was a delight to see the metalcore fourpiece again.

Switchfoot: Monthly creativity, by subscription

Switchfoot cashed in on the capabilities of livestreaming early on during the pandemic, and the rock band has turned it into a monthly event. What was once the Fantastic Traveling Music Show became the Fantastic Not Traveling Music Show, which fans can either purchase individually or on a subscription basis. The subscription has proved worthwhile, since the West Coast natives have pushed themselves creatively on the theme and setting of each performance. They’ve played a boat navigating the San Diego harbor, the friendly confines of Petco Park, and the laidback setting of a campfire. You never know what you’re going to hear them play either: They’ve kept up a tradition of having fans mail in song requests via bottle.

Thursday: Welcome to the tour, from your home

If there’s one thing the pandemic has hurt in the music community, it’s just that: the community. While livestreams are a great alternative when you can’t go to a show, there’s no replacement to seeing a three-band bill at your local venue, your feet sticking to the beer-stained floor. Thursday did their best to recreate that feeling, bringing their friends in Cursive and And So I Watch You From Afar onboard for a three-band virtual bill — the bands all playing from their respective cities. Of course, Thursday gets the bulk of the attention as they headlined from Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, NY, ripping through their legacy tracks like “Understanding in a Car Crash” and “Signals Over the Air” with My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero filling in on guitar.

Underoath: Full-album rips, expertly engineered

No band looked at livestreams as economically as Underoath. They mastered the art of digital performance, providing as much incentive to fans as possible during the pandemic. The metalcore outfit built a rotating circular stage back home in Florida called the “Observatory,” making live performances fun to watch as the camera rotates from member to member. Each Observatory performance was a masterful feat: They ripped through their most renowned full-lengths in a reminder of the group’s skill and legacy. The financial results were staggering: With sales in the six figures, it appears the livestreams completely made up for Underoath’s loss of touring revenue.

Featured Photo Credit: Spencer Chamberlain (Mark Horton, Getty Images), Jon Foreman (Eva Dang Photography), Chris Carrabba (Scott Legato, Getty Images)

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