Whether it's the cancellation of shows, the debt of postponed festivals and tours or the lack of pay for venue employees, promoters and other insiders, the impact of Coronavirus on the music industry is insurmontable. As someone who spends a good amount of time around live music, it’s hard to keep a positive outlook, especially with recent reports saying that in-person concerts likely won’t resume until 2021. 


Despite this uncertainty, musicians have been banding together these past few months, doing their best to bring some much needed joy into their fans’ lives. Big concert benefits, like the Living Room Concert For America, are bringing the practice into the mainstream and the public’s interest while raising millions for COVID-19 relief. Noisey, the music channel on VICE’s website, hosted Noisey Night In, a livestream festival to benefit Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, on April 11. Philadelphia band Courier Club created Block By Blockwest, a charity festival streamed over Minecraft on May 16, which featured artists like Cherry Glazerr and Pussy Riot. Other bands are taking to Instagram, YouTube, and other online platforms to share songs and intimate performances worldwide.


Though they may seem trivial in the face of the pandemic, livestream performances do make a difference, especially for fans. Here’s a list of some of my favorites that I’ve seen so far. 



Hinds

Spanish rockers Hinds have been quarantined in their homes around Madrid for a little longer than us here in the US, and are one of the groups hit hardest by the pandemic. Lead singer Carlota Cosials’ mother tested positive for the virus, and the band has since rescheduled their upcoming album release and tour to focus on spending time with loved ones. That hasn’t stopped them from making music, though. As part of Rolling Stone Magazine’s “In My Room” series, which features different artists performing from home via IGTV every week, Hinds live streamed two of their songs (now archived on the publication’s website). 


“New For You,” a classic from the band’s 2018 album “I Don’t Run,” is even better completely stripped down. It stays true to Hinds’ raw sound, bringing forth a bit of extra grit. “Come Back and Love Me <3,” a calming tune in its own right, adds something extra acoustically. Even during lockdown, Hinds are still their optimistic selves, pushing through the sound malfunctions and roommate interruptions with fervor. This little snippet makes the extended wait for their new record (“The Prettiest Curse,” out June 5th) well worth it.



The Frights

There are some bands you think you’re never going to find your way back to; the Frights are definitely one of mine. I remember going through a brief phase when I was thirteen, when listening to the San Diego punk alt trio’s “Fur Sure” EP made me feel like the coolest kid in middle school. Though we were supposed to be reunited in person at the Bowery Ballroom this past April, I’ve been reconnecting with the Frights via Instagram, where frontman Mikey Carnevale has been wooing over fans and followers with his guitar (and numerous glasses of wine.)


It’s rare for any artist to take the time to revisit their entire discography, and play it live, for that matter. Between the background noise from his family during the livestream of “Everything Seems Like Yesterday” or the iPad malfunctions in 2018’s “Hypochondriac” show, Carenvale proves that the band can handle anything. Though the Frights are definitely a group you’ve got to jump around to, these more mellow performances show their softer side; one hard not to fall in love with. It was heartwarming to get to see people “cheering” along in the comments, sending in clapping hand Emojis to share their support. Aside from the music, that sense of encouragement makes these performances ones to watch.



Waxahatchee
One of the best things about online concerts is being introduced to new artists on your time and on a budget (of nothing!) I knew very little about Alabama folk rock act Waxahatchee (yeah yeah, come for me indies) until I stumbled across her via the Rolling Stone “In My Room” series. For her performance, singer Katie Crutchfield performed songs “Fire” and “Lilacs” from her new album “Saint Cloud.” Played on a keyboard in her home in Kansas City, they ring out as love letters, proving that simplicity sometimes reigns supreme.


Though alt-folk isn’t normally my thing, I was immediately drawn to Crutchfield’s vocals and musical world. It inspired me to check out the rest of “Saint Cloud,” as well as her previous releases. I was thrown into that wonderful feeling of finding a new artist to listen to, diving headfirst into their discography and scouring YouTube for every video I could (it made me extremely happy to see that the band had an Amoeba “What's In My Bag?” episode). The perfect distraction, in my opinion.



Karen O

It’s taken a pandemic for certain things to happen: for us to see an intense spark in humanitarianism, for certain politicians to start paying attention to their constituents and for Karen O to whip out some of her most precious musical rarities. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs lead singer performed an acoustic version of deep cut “Our Time” via IGTV on April 12th. It’s the first song she wrote for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the first time she’s played it in over a decade.

Maybe it’s her small son making an appearance, or the makeshift ambience given by a spinning disco ball, but this intimate performance sticks out more than most. Steering away from the usual grit of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ discography, this stripped down ballas feels like a blessing. O’s voice is soft, like she’s singing directly to you, the emotion in her falsettos permeating through. It’ll make you ache for New York (Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ place of origin), but also be thankful to be able to do so in the first place. It might just give you the will to “break on through” this tough period as well.



The Struts

British rock band the Struts are hunkered down in their various homes around Los Angeles, but that’s not stopping them from putting on a spectacular show (or shows). Their new web series “Sunday Service” delves into everything from music to Q&A’s to SNL-esque comedy sketches, all while maintaining the energy that the band brings everywhere they go. Each episode is around twenty minutes long; the perfect length to binge when you’re in need of some good music and laughs (you're sure to get both, whether it’s through the iconic Spice Girls cover in episode one, or guitarist Adam Slack’s intense egg making process in episode three). Their newest episode segment “Stay Home and Unplugged” is dedicated to exclusive acoustic covers of the band’s biggest hits, soothing the souls of those who love their original music. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see the Struts live yet, don’t fret. This series will make you feel like you’ve gotten to know them far better than you could in a single night onstage. 



Bad Bad Hats
Bad Bad Hats are just the right amount of awkward to have you hooked. Their alluring indie pop is perfect to play anywhere from road trips to your Early 2000’s Throwback Dance Party. In lieu of shows, the band (or two thirds of them, husband/wife duo Kerry Alexander and Chris Hoge) started a series called “Islands in the Livestream,” which airs every Saturday at 4pm CST on YouTube. It’s four hours that live up to the group’s self-proclaimed title of “America’s Most Wholesome Indie Rock Band.”

Bad Bad Hats keep things interesting with changing themes every week, so you’re bound to find something you’re interested in. Episode 1  is an ode to the 90’s, Kerry and Chris covering everything from the Cranberries to Fastball’s lost power ballad “Out of my Head.” Episode 2 is dedicated to the band’s favorite love ballads, while others shows tackle old alt rock favorites and songs with names in the title (the cover of Alvvays’ “Marry Me, Archie” had me swooning). Kerry and Chris are also gems to watch. It’s clear how much they love their band and each other, the connection shining through in every song. 


The Strokes

This last one technically isn’t a concert, but I have to make an exception for New York’s finest. Partly for promo and partly out of boredom, the Strokes started a “pirate radio show” called “5 Guys Talking About Things They Know Nothing About,” its premise staying true to the title. The podcast-esque webshow includes everything from casual conversation to the band spinning some of their favorite quarantine tunes.


During April 9th’s episode, the Strokes hosted a listening party via YouTube for their new album “The New Abnormal,” their first LP in seven years. In between songs, they told behind-the-scenes stories about the recording process, the insight trouped only by the absolute chaos that occurs when all five Strokes are together (ie: a heated discourse about the validity of graham crackers). Indulging in the record with them, even if over a glitching Zoom chat, is an irreplaceable experience. As the Strokes share their anxieties about the pandemic, it’s a reminder that we all have the same worries, but also the same hope that things will get better. Like drummer Fab Moretti stated, “We’ve just got to love each other, man; we’ve got to be kind.” 




Nothing will ever compare to live music. There’s something special about being surrounded by people as in love with an artist as you are that can’t be reproduced digitally. Still, these virtual concerts provide solace that’s more impactful today than before. With all their awkward glory, these performances are the most intimate we’ll see our favorite artists, creating a unique connection we might not have gotten otherwise. The mistakes and blunders—the lags and glitches—are a constant reminder that we’re truly all in this together, figuring things out and making the most of it. It shows that even in the strangest times, we’ve still got songs to help us through until we’re back out on our own. 


That is music to my ears.

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Image by Pete Gibson


When I am in a particularly high stress and tumultuous situation, such as living during a global pandemic, it seems as though the only thing I can count on to be consistent is my dream life. It’s not consistent in content, of course, but it is consistently vivid and anxiety inducing. Since the coronavirus outbreak, I honestly think I feel more anxious while I’m dreaming than while I’m awake. 


While I’ve been in quarantine these past few weeks, I have tried to write down every dream I can remember. I try to keep them in a poem, each part of a dream written in a four line stanza. At the end of every week, I bring them to my therapist. I am one of the lucky few with access to virtual therapy, but I think even if I didn’t, I would still try to bring them to someone. Dream interpretation is not a new idea, but I firmly believe in its power to reveal one’s subconscious. Here is what is in my subconscious: 


I'm in an airport and a woman who claims to be the sister of

a guy I’m seeing takes me home in her car and won't let me go!

I escape through the front door and run down the streets of Brooklyn

Where all the brownstones look the same and try to head for Prospect Park.

 

I’m at a birthday party my mother is throwing for me and another girl.

Who is she? Why does she live in my house?

My mom won't let me leave even though I have a date

When I try to invite him to my birthday party, I can't find his contact info.

 

I meet Joe Biden and instead of kicking him in the junk for Tara,

I freeze and he squeezes my shoulders.

He walks back onto the stage while I'm still standing,

The shame and guilt for my inaction overwhelm me while he disappears into the wings.

 

I get abducted by a cult, but it's a nice cult, and Avi is there, too.

The leaders are a straight couple dressed in gladiator outfits and they tell me,

"We like to keep your friend around because he's really funny and charming."

When I ask why they keep me around they look me up and down, hungry.

 

I'm trying to find a date to the prom.

"I'll only go if someone asks me," I tell my friend Amy from high school.

I sit next to Pena from the high school debate team in a hotel lobby.

I ask him if he's going to the prom and he escapes out a window.

 

I have to call the guy I'm seeing "the guy I'm seeing" for

"I don't believe in labels" reasons but at least I get to hook up with

My high school ex-boyfriend who sucks and despite not labeling anything,

I still feel the guilt creeping into the back of his red Toyota Tacoma.

 

When the cult leaders find me trying to sneak out of their underground bunker

In the middle of the night, they take me to the roof, where they take me.

And it feels bad and guilty not because the event was coercive, but because I look over

And I see the woman. And I think of my Christian mother, who loves me.

 

My mother and my cousin Ally take me grocery shopping at Walmart.

I'm trying to reach for the last box of chocolate Lucky Charms but

A cart is in the way so I bump into it and sirens go off, emanating from the cart's base.

I don't know how, but Joe Biden is behind this. 


Here, with the help of my therapist, I can see my fears: being abducted, abandoned, desired, undesired, and weak. I thought knowing what my fears were and having to face them every night would leave me exhausted and defeated, but it’s had the opposite effect. I feel as if all this time alone is an opportunity to know myself. I don’t yet know what all of this thinking and knowing will result in once quarantine ends, but for now I feel as if it is enough to continue existing in myself. 

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Image by Ava Agnes Mayer



Every time I come back from break, I hear the same phrase from my friends: “Ugh, I didn’t get anything done!” How lamentable! You mean you didn’t spend the few precious moments of time you have away from the pressures and stresses of Pratt doing more work?! But I can’t say I’m not guilty of the same. We spend so much time and money to come to this school and hone our crafts, we should put it to use when we can, right? It seems wasteful not to use the time free from assignments to pump out more content. But burnout is real.The amount of work we are expected to produce during the semester is, in a few words, a lot. On top of all the work we produce ourselves, we’re also in the process of critiquing our peers’ work, fulfilling general ed requirements and doing all sorts of extra readings. I don’t know about you, but after a few months of classes, the last thing I want to do is even think about writing. And there shouldn’t be shame in that.


It’s called break for a reason, so take one. Don’t beat yourself up for giving your brain a moment to relax and recover from the non-stop rigor of classes. If you don’t, the more tired you’ll get and the more you’ll resent the work you once loved doing. So I’ll offer a few tips on what I do to relax over break that don’t in any way involve critical thinking, intelligence or effort.


Eat a burrito! Every break, as soon as I get home, I head straight to my favorite restaurant, buy a burrito, and eat it in my car like a savage animal claiming their hunt. Nothing is a better “Welcome Home” than good, nostalgic food.


Try something new! Instead of throwing yourself against the wall of making the same thing you always do, look into something that’s always interested you. For me, it was cocktail mixing. A completely “useless” skill that serves me in no particular way as an artist, but it was something I always thought looked fun, and I had a way better time drinking Kamikazes than I would have hunched over my computer flailing my tired brain over a project that doesn’t need doing til classes begin.


Watch, read, listen to whatever you like! Instead of beating yourself up for not being productive, take some time to re-engage with media--new or old--that you love. Remind yourself of the works that first inspired you to create. Find new things to inspire you if you can. Nothing makes me more excited to create than when I find something really good, and am reminded that art is a pursuit of joy, not productivity. 




I’ve been spending time with friends every day since fleeing New York to my home in suburban Maryland. There are at least twenty of us—old friends and new—in my bedroom at any given moment, constantly bumping into one another and crowding each other’s space. It’s strange, as I’m not usually a social butterfly. If I’ve learned anything lately, though, it’s that unexpected things happen whether we like it or not.


We go out a lot. The newer faces—the ones I haven’t encountered before—urge exploration the most. I’ve traversed around London with Eleanor Oliphant (who is completely fine) in Gail Honeyman’s book of the same name. Zadie Smith showed me around her stomping grounds in Italy— her personal place of reconnaissance and rediscovery—through her essays in Feel Free. I’ve congregated in Tokyo with Keiko Furukura in Convenience Store Woman, and paraded through my favorite DC hangs alongside the Bloch family in Here I Am, finding solace amongst characters completely like and unlike myself. It’s tiring jumping from place to place within a matter of days. The escape is worth it.


As wonderful as these new experiences are, I still like familiarity. I’ve been surrounding myself with souls who’ve been there since high school: J. D. Salinger, Stephen Chobosky, Patti Smith. We talk frequently, their stories are just as comforting as I remember them to be. I’ve grown a lot since our first get-togethers, and see their words from a new place of experience. I’m more sympathetic to Holden Caulfield’s behavior, more understanding of Charlie’s anxiety in Perks. They still mean something all the same, bringing me back to past moments and memories. It’s nice, especially now, to know that some things don’t change.


All of us always end up back home. We stay together as the sun hangs in the sky outside my window. We watch it rise every morning, illuminating my bookshelf and all its inhabitants first. We watch it set every night too, when it feels like we’re the only ones left in the world. It’s been hard to sleep lately. They’re good at keeping me company when I’m awake when I shouldn’t be. Their words are my only adventure and biggest comfort, second only to their mere presence, the fact that they’ll always be here. In the midst of chaos, that’s the sweetest relief of all. 


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