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10 Best Virtual Concerts During COVID So Far

March 09, 2021

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It’s probably been a long time since you’ve seen live music, as restrictions in the age of COVID-19 have forced performers to turn to online concerts. Some online shows have been awesome and some, well, not so much. Here are the virtual events that are definitely worth checking out.

Billie Eilish’s "Where Do We Go?"

The 19-year-old sensation had to cancel her “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” tour due to COVID—but that didn’t stop the show. Resembling a slickly produced music video, the concert puts Billie, her brother and collaborator Finneas, and their drummer on a massive stage with roving cameras and LED screens for stunning effects. We're treated to hits including “Ocean Eyes,” "When the Party’s Over,” and “Xanny.” Eilish raised the bar for what a virtual concert can be.

Post Malone’s Nirvana Tribute

What could have been the worst-ever virtual concert turned out to be one of the best. When "hip-pop" rapper Post Malone announced plans to step on sacred ground and cover Nirvana tunes you could feel the haters burning to hate. But he pulled it off! Dressed in a frock that was a nod to late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s gender-bending fashion, “Posty” tore through a set that included "Breed," "Heart-Shaped Boxed," "Lithium," and "Come As You Are."

David Guetta Live from Miami

As part of the United at Home livestream event, the French EDM star took to an outdoor stage in Downtown Miami and had a live audience—sort of. Thousands of folks quarantined in surrounding high rises came out on their balconies to see Guetta perform a feel-good set that included his famous “I Gotta Feeling” remix. On-screen via Zoom we saw a parade of celebrities, including pop stars, DJs, rappers, and soccer stars.

Gorillaz: Song Machine Live from Kong

A “virtual band” long before COVID-19, Gorillaz are a natural fit for a virtual concert. Over the course of 80 minutes, we got songs from their new album, Song Machine, some old favorites including “Last Living Souls” and “Clint Eastwood,” plus an A-list roster of guest stars. Elton John, Robert Smith of The Cure, and a holographic Beck joined the show that was filmed in the basement of Kong Studios in London.

Erykah Badu’s Apocalypse 3

The third show in Badu’s livestreamed Quarantine: Apocalypse series, Apocalypse 3 offers an overload of surreal imagery. Strap in for an interstellar psychedelic trip that includes a mind-bending light show, hazmat suits, elaborate costumes, and musicians performing inside giant bubbles. Filmed in Dallas, the show draws heavily on Badu’s mixtape “But You Caint Use My Phone” with DJ remixes and spoken-word commentary.

Sam Smith: Virtual Concert from Abbey Road Studios

English crooner Sam Smith celebrates the release of his third studio album from London's legendary Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles famously recorded the album Abbey Road. Bathed in monochromatic light, Smith gave us an intimate performance that included his hits “Too Good at Goodbyes” and “Stay With Me,” along with the new songs “My Oasis” and “Love Goes.”

Keith Urban Plays for Nicole Kidman

Country singer Keith Urban went to the warehouse where his tour gear is stored to play a gig for an “audience of one”—the “one” being his wife Nicole Kidman. The 30-minute Instagram set is about as low-tech as you can get, filmed with a phone with seemingly little preparation. Urban played guitar and sang, backed by a few members of his “InstaBand,” with Kidman popping in to sing along and dance.

John Legend for #TogetherAtHome

Urban isn’t the only performer with a famous wife to join him for a livestream. John Legend’s #TogetherAtHome concert saw wife Chrissy Teigen in a robe and on a piano as he performed songs including “Beauty and the Beast,” “Preach,” and “Conversations in the Dark.” Legend also treated us to the theme songs to The Office and Vanderpump Rules, while Teigen shared some of the couple’s personal tales.

Niall Horan at Royal Albert Hall

The ex One Direction singer gives us an unusual view of London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall—without an audience, colored lights crossing over the empty seating, and the vacant loggia boxes overlooking the stage. Horan’s set includes hits from his debut album Flicker and his second album Heartbreak Weather, as well as a duet of “Moral of the Story” with American singer Ashe.

Chris Martin on Instagram

The first of his handful of Instagram performances saw the English star doing classics from his band Coldplay, including “A Sky Full of Stars,” “Trouble” and “Viva la Vida,” switching between an upright piano and an acoustic guitar. He also told some stories about Coldplay’s history and covered David Bowie’s “Life on Mars.”

One day live music will return. Until then we can stay positive during COVID and be thankful that this interconnected world has awesome virtual music at amazing online events.

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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