The age of virtual concerts: a review of BLACKPINK’s The Show

Online concerts are still pretty thrilling.

The+promo+poster+for+BLACKPINK%27s+latest+virtual+concert%2C+gathering+thousands+of+viewers.

Photo BLACKPINK

The promo poster for BLACKPINK’s latest virtual concert, gathering thousands of viewers.

Pim Kruthun, Staff Writer

Don’t you miss the days where you could just walk into a concert venue filled with hundreds of people with adrenaline pumping as you watch your favorite artist performs live right in front of you? I would immediately say yes if we were in pre-COVID times, but I couldn’t give a straight answer if you asked me today. The idea of being in a sweaty crowd with so many other people breathing the same air in 2021 is just off-putting.

I loved watching concerts and I still do, and just this weekend I tried out a solution for deprived concert lovers: virtual concerts. No, I’m not talking about singers going live on Instagram to sing an acoustic in their pajamas; I’m talking real venues, stage costumes, lights, dancers, tickets and a global audience. Everything almost exactly like the real deal, but online.

That was done for the girl group BLACKPINK and their virtual concert The Show. which aired Jan. 31 and is still playing on YouTube. The group’s company claims the concert was a project in the works for the past two years, meaning it wasn’t a result of a pandemic adaption. Either they predicted the future, or this is one big coincidence. Nonetheless, it garnered more than 280,000 live viewers, with the standard pricing of $29.98 per ticket.

I decided to give The Show a try, as I’m a fan of both concerts and the group. I purchased a standard ticket along with a higher priced “PLUS” ticket that would give members exclusive content, such as a virtual pre-show and behind the scenes content.

Some viewers even watched the concert for free on illegal streams. One Twitch stream was said to have an unconfirmed number of over 200,000 views. These numbers are far bigger than what could have been accomplished with concerts in the past; there are not many physical venues big enough to fit 200,000 people at once. In order to get the most out of the money I paid, and to enhance my virtual concert experience, I watched the stream on my Oculus VR.

When it started, I noticed right away The Show was definitely live like advertised. The vocals sounded very natural and fresh from the mic and it didn’t just feel like I was watching a normal YouTube video. The set was marvelous, you could tell the budget was very high. There were numerous sets and multiple eye-catching costume changes. Ensuring an aesthetically pleasing stage was an especially important choice for having a virtual concert. Virtual concerts also allow more creative freedoms to be done with the stages; for example, different camera angles can provide an advantage such as having time to change up a stage while the camera is panned to another area.

Not only did the producers and artists keep the concert fresh with costume changes and venue changes, but they did lyrical changes, remixes of existing songs and introduced a new song at the concert as well. At the closing stage, handmade letters and posters made by fans were displayed decoratively, a smart move to make fans feel more connected to the concert.

I went into The Show with low expectations and didn’t expect it to feel as real and as exciting as it did. But the creativity and the effort put into the stages proved online concerts are still pretty thrilling.