The digital era has withdrawn the need to put much thought into conceptual stages, dance routines, and even set lists anymore. Instead, it's encouraged laziness with brief moments of thrill. Artists now rely on their fans to perform their songs or just be content with getting close enough to get a shot for their social media.
Powerhouse NYC, which took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, was proof that the Internet is more powerful than stage presence. French Montana, Migos and DJ Envy & Friends were just three of the acts that all have big names in the game, but put on performances that were small in comparison.
DJ Booth recently published a piece discussing the Internet's impact on an artist's longevity. It stated that because of the online community, an artist's "window" of success or opportunity is never really done because any moment could be the right one to go viral. This is completely true. The Internet might benefit the artist in terms of extending their career run, but it hinders them creatively as well as their fans. Since everyone is searching for that one good take, artists find it okay to half a** their sets – walking back and forth on stage and only reciting a snippet of their lyrics – because all the fans really need is 15, solid seconds of footage. And if everyone is glued to their phone screens, they don't realize that Takeoff has been in the corner drinking a bottle of water for an entire verse or that French Montana is out of breath and missed the first bar of "Ain't Worried Bout Nothing."
It's not that we should expect or demand artists, especially rappers, to bring out the big guns. Not every act needs back-up dancers and crazy lighting. But a live performance is supposed to add value to the track. It's supposed to elevate. If you were going to let us sing all of the song or play the audio over your mic, we could've just listened to the track on our own sound systems. Lil Uzi Vert, by contrast, while critics have thrown a lot of jabs at his music catalogue, the guy at least knows how to create a vibe. He commanded not only the stage but the arena, as he leapt from the platform to the audience while performing "Sauce It Up," "XO Tour Life," and more. It may be because he’s a rookie in the industry or the fact that he’s the product of a completely different generation in hip-hop, one which loves a good mosh pit and crowd surf. Nevertheless, his ten-minute set was memorable.
Obviously, it wouldn't be right if the Migos or French ripped of their shirts and jolted into a sea of screaming fans, but there is surely something that is age appropriate, that still encourages crowd interaction and a memorable vibe.
Yes, we’re all grateful to have the opportunity to witness our favorite artists up close. It’s an incredible feeling being with thousands of other people who are chanting the words to “Bodak Yellow” or “Bad and Boujee” with you. But it shouldn’t be too much to ask for these same artists to throw in a little effort. If you can no longer run through a 20-minute set without going over to the side of the DJ booth to wipe your neck while a miscellaneous man yells for every side of the crowd to scream your name, concerts and tour may not be for you anymore.
By no means does the Internet’s tremendous impact on how we receive live content mean that concerts and festivals will soon be obsolete, but it begs the question of whether performance as an art and experience will go extinct within the next five years.
Sorry Powerhouse, it's not you; it's the Internet.