Whether it’s a pixelated Lil Nas X yeehawing his way around Roblox, or Post Malone frolicking with a CGI Pikachu, the last 12 months have brought the worlds of music and gaming ever closer. In the absence of stadium shows, plenty of popstars have turned to gaming platforms, as a way of offering their increasingly Extremely Online fanbases something a little more interactive than a laggy livestream – and, of course, to get those sweet, sweet brand partnership deals.
Music and gaming crossovers have typically featured huge, recognisable stars; the kind of popstar you’d recognise even when pixelated. In the last concert held in Fortnite, a giant Travis Scott hologram flexed over the virtual world, lovingly detailed right down to the Travis Scott x Air Jordans on his feet. But despite being visually impressive, the event felt more like a marketing ploy than it did a bonafide musical event. It even spawned a whole new merch line for the entrepreneurial Scott, including a $75 action figure and $500 replicas of Scott’s virtual Jordans. So Fortnite’s decision to collaborate with rising Leicester gang Easy Life – none of whom you could easily pick out of a line-up, no offence – is an interesting one.
Luckily, tonight’s “show” feels more like a charming art project than blatant capitalist venture. Despite the hyper-realistic venue that fans enter through, once entering the arena we’re whisked through a series of surreal gaming levels, with the band themselves playing a fairly minimal role, peering from screens and from behind windows, as though peering through a fish bowl.
While Travis Scott’s set-up looked like the trailer for a rejected Marvel film, Easy Life’s virtual world is a much more ramshackle affair. It’s all vaguely nautical-themed (a nod to their debut album, ‘Life’s A Beach’), and features a series of slightly run-down beaches and cityscapes, strewn with beer bottles and deflated beach balls like Skegness after a 21℃ day. This setting suits Easy Life’s bright, stoner bops down to the ground, but perhaps even more crucially, it suits the integral goofiness of Fortnite as a platform. As Travis Scott’s hologram discovered, it’s pretty difficult to be an aloof rap god while Pickle Rick is doing backflips and shooting a nerf gun at you.
As live music slowly returns, it’s hard to imagine that video game concerts will necessarily become a part of every musician’s arsenal. But as tonight’s experiment suggests, if an artist is culturally simpatico with the game they’re collaborating with, there’s all kinds of wacky fun to be had.
The gig is available to view within The O2, Fortnite Creative from now until 23:59 BST Sunday evening, before then being published on the band’s YouTube next week. You can also watch it back on Twitch here
Easy Life played:
‘have a great day’