It is genuinely hard to describe what I just witnessed in Fortnite, but I’m going to try. It was an in-game concert that was meant to evolve on last year’s Marshmello show, and this time, it was rapper Travis Scott doing a performance titled “Astronomical.” To say it was larger in scale than last year’s concert can be taken quite literally.
At the Marshmello show, everyone flocked to a stage where the DJ, in avatar form, spun beats, and there were cool things that happened like beat drops throwing everyone up in the air or disabling gravity altogether. Things only possible in a video game concert.
The Travis Scott show? It took things to an entirely new level, and shows just how many light years ahead of every other game Epic is with live events like this.
All week long, Fortnite has been building a stage in the middle of an island chain in the north west of the map, similar to what we saw from Marshmello, but that turned out to be the best joke of the evening. A giant planet made up of an amusement park and blasting speakers arrived from the sky with a comet orbiting it. As it whirled around, I figured “Oh neat, Travis Scott’s gonna dive bomb the stage from the sky.”
Dive bomb he did for the beat drop in the opening track, but a 200 foot tall version of him, obliterating the stage and launching the “true” concert, what I can best described as a mammoth, interactive cutscene that allowed you to control your player to a certain extent, bouncing, floating, flying or at one point, swimming, when the entire map was submerged in water. Travis performed songs while stomping around the map like Godzilla, and after the underwater bit, things went flat-out into outer space, concluding in a brief cameo by Fortnite’s fabled crystal butterfly, which has players buzzing.
It was a short show, maybe only 10 minutes or so, far from the 2-3 hours you might expect from a normal concert, but it was attended by tens of millions and was unlike anything you could ever possibly hope to experience in real life.
I’ve talked before about Fortnite creating the “Metaverse,” a virtual world where people go to hang out and live, not just play a battle royale shooter. A true version of that may be years, decades away, and yet in moments like this, it feels like pieces of it are already here. Tonight I attended a virtual concert dressed as Psylocke from X-Men for a famous real-life rapper that essentially destroyed the entire digital world and put it back together again the course of a few songs. And in our current global lockdown, it was in fact the only concert anyone has been able to attend in recent memory, and that may be the case for a while to come.
Even if you’re a lapsed Fortnite player, this kind of thing is absolutely worth showing up for, as it really does feel like you’re living through a piece of internet/gaming history. There are four more shows planned for Astronomical, including an encore in the US. Here’s the remaining schedule.
Trust me, no matter what you think of Fortnite, Travis Scott or anything else, this is a must-see production that YouTube clips simply can’t do justice. And this is the future, in more ways than one.