What I miss most about concerts in this COVID-19 world
While many concerts were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic, I found some respite in online concerts this year.
Before 2020 came around, I had a list of concerts I had planned to attend with my friends. It seemed to be an exciting year ahead as some of my favourite K-pop artists had upcoming concerts scheduled in Singapore.
I was looking forward to seeing GOT7 during their Singapore stop for their world tour Keep Spinning. There were also rumours of BTS coming here for their Map Of The Soul tour.
However, all my plans went down the drain with the sudden onset of COVID-19. Gradually, all the concerts on my list were either postponed or cancelled.
Initially, it was hard for me to accept that I would not be seeing any of my favourite artists this year, especially since I was used to attending at least one concert each year.
Besides feeling disappointed about these postponements, I also had to go through the hassle of getting refunds. Some fans had it worse – they struggled to get refunds from airline companies as they had booked flights to catch these concerts overseas.
Back then, my Twitter feed was filled with fans reminiscing about the previous concerts they attended. We were all hoping for some sort of miracle to happen or an alternative way to see our idols.
It felt as if our wishes were finally heard when online concerts started popping up around April this year. When BTS announced that they would be holding a free online concert Bang Bang Con in April and a paid concert Bang Bang Con: The Live in June, I jumped at the opportunity to see one of my favourite K-pop groups performing again.
It felt like the fandom was suddenly alive again after the announcement of Bang Bang Con. The #BangBangCon hashtag trended immediately on Twitter and it was filled with tweets from excited fans.
Some fans even designed printable tickets for the online concert for a more “realistic” experience.
While watching the BTS online concert relieved the itch to see my idols performing on stage, I still felt like something was missing.
Nothing beats watching them in real life, but at least I could enjoy their live performances, even if it’s through a screen.
Soon after, many other K-pop groups caught up on the trend and organised online concerts for their fans. A new digital platform, Beyond Live, was even set up to stream these concerts online.
Besides online concerts, there were other online events such as video call fansigns and even drive-through fansigns in Korea to relieve the concert itch for fans of K-pop idols.
Beyond the K-pop industry, other artists held similar events for their fans to make the best out of the situation, such as socially distanced concerts by British singer-songwriter Sam Fender and an upcoming drive-in concert by folk rock band The Avett Brothers on Aug 29.
COVID-19 may have destroyed nearly all the concert plans I had for 2020, but I managed to find some joy through these livestream events.
It is quite refreshing to see how the concert scene has changed drastically this year – I would have never expected to see myself jamming to live performances from the comfort of my room.
Online concerts also held an edge against physical concerts because an unlimited number of fans could watch the concerts from all around the world.
Small joys aside, I still feel that being able to watch my idols performing in real life is a special experience that is hard to replicate. But I am definitely looking forward to the possibility of seeing less crowds at my next concert experience – who knows, safe distancing measures might be here to stay longer than we expect.