Reviews: Fortnite ‘Party Royale’ With Dillon Francis, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5; Porter Robinson’s Secret Sky
Ain’t No Party Like A Fortnite Party?
As discussed in this week’s cover story, the Travis Scott “Astronomical” Fortnite event was a major success, and the game is apparently looking to build on momentum generated by that concert.
On May 8 and 9, a trifecta of EDM heavyweights – Dillon Francis, Steve Aoki and Deadmau5 – performed a digital concert within a new game mode called “Party Royale.” In this game mode, weapons are disabled and there is no group objective; it simply allows players to enter a server with 100 other players and experience an in-game concert.
Each performer played DJ sets just over 15 minutes in length. This wasn’t the first time the game had used its Party Royale game mode, as Major Lazer did an in-game event the week before, and it seems like this might become a more and more regular occurrence.
The main stage in the in-game world was on the beach, with a structure set in front that players could watch from. There were special launch pads that allowed players to jump around extra high while the music and video was blasting in front them and holographic dancers surrounding the area. During the in-game event players could also race boats, go fishing, drive dune buggies and search the map for non-combat items to use to decorate the map or interact with their friends.
In the short sets (see the IGN video above for full setlists), each artist played his hits (“Get Low” for Dillon Francis; “Pursuit of Happiness” remix and “Waste It On Me” for Steve Aoki; “Ghosts ‘N’ Stuff for Deadmau5) and gave a good sampling of his unique style.
Francis seemed to have the best grasp on the medium, with lots of visuals that blended well with Fortnite’s virtual world. He also repeatedly shouted out streamers who were watching like Tfue and Dr. Lupo – whose Twitch streams had 56,447 and 22,000 concurrent viewers during the event, respectively – engaging with those audiences uniquely and making them feel like he was speaking directly to them.
There were misses during the event, such as points when mics stopped working and the feed playing the music briefly paused or interrupted, but everyone in-game seemed to be enjoying themselves.
While the event was in many ways about music, during the introduction a Fortnite representative explained that another purpose of Party Royale was to create a space for players to hang out with their friends. While he was watching the performance and jumping around the play area, Tfue was also talking to a friend, inviting him to move in with him in Florida and talking about relationship status.
As I was playing the game it felt like I ran out of different jumping activities to do during the game mode, but I learned how to fish and use different items, and I rode on the back of a dune buggy while flying around the stage area. It felt like a place to unwind and pass time with friends, as there was no real objective to be accomplished, but I could see how kids playing the game a lot already would enjoy this space to hang out with others.
– Secret Sky
Porter Robinson Illuminates The Internet With Secret Sky
Since Porter Robinson isn’t putting on his personally curated Second Sky festival in 2020, he and some partners joined forces to create Secret Sky, a unique, 13-hour digital event, on May 9.
As previously reported, Robinson teamed up with Active Theory to create a digital auditorium in which he could present a 13-hour lineup including himself, Madeon, Anamanaguchi, G Jones, Jai Wolf, Nanobii and many more.
The digital auditorium was a 3D space in which viewers were surrounded by stars and were represented onscreen by a small little star that left a colored comet-trail.
Viewers could watch the performance in the digital auditorium alongside up to 1,000 others (and could invite their friends) and were able to move their in-game avatar to create small designs while the artist performed on the larger screen.
The screen at the front of the digital auditorium was massive, and created a huge sense of scale, with impressive 3D effects to make viewers feel immersed.
As attendees interacted with others in the digital auditorium, the screen would inform them where the other person was viewing from. Throughout the digital auditorium there were also set times posted and a marker indicating how many people had visited from around the world – by the time Robinson’s set was closing the number was approaching 700,000. There was also an area that shared a coupon code for free Postmates delivery during the event.
In the digital auditorium, attendees could also see artists’ on-screen performance videos via YouTube, and the event was also livestreamed on platforms like Twitch. There was the option to view YouTube live chat while in the digital auditorium, so attendees could see the flood of comments throughout high points of different artists’ sets. Robinson himself would pin comments about different performing artists to the top of the chat during performances.
Robinson’s manager previously told Pollstar Robinson was spending a good amount of his own money on this event and all of the proceeds raised through sponsorship were being donated to charity, MusiCares specifically.
In terms of actual content, I did not stay for the full 13 hours, but I did catch DV-i, Jai Wolf, Nanobii, Anamanaguchi, Kizuna AI, Madeon and Porter Robinson.
Jai Wolf’s set impressed me, as I wasn’t previously familiar with his work, but the visuals and the way he was able to move between different tempos was surprisingly engaging. It might also been that I had trouble connecting into a larger room during the DV-i set, so his was the first set I saw with the giant auditorium’s effects while surrounded by dozens of other colorful comets.
The movement of the comet-avatar took some time to master, and while I play a lot of video games, I have to say it was very hard for me to figure out how to do even simple things like make a heart with my comet-tail, though I did eventually get there.
I had never heard of Nanobii, but the chat absolutely lit up for his set and I was pleasantly surprised. He caught my attention with the remix of “Go The Distance” from the film “Hercules,” and I found his use of bright synth sounds to very much be in line with other artists Robinson has a tendency to curate, like Anamanaguchi.
Speaking of Anamanaguchi, I was curious how the four-piece would organize the visuals for their performance, as they usually perform live, but they had cameras set on each band member and a healthy mix of banter in between songs, similar to their live show.
Two indisputable highlights from what I saw, though, were Madeon and Porter Robinson. Madeon was a clear standout at last year’s Second Sky festival, with incredible energy and lots of unique sounds and styles crafted into his set. Madeon released his latest album, Good Faith, last year, and was in form for this performance. He fed his fans generously with this set, mixing in some of his impressive new material (“Dream Dream Dream” is quickly becoming a personal favorite) and creative remixes, such as his closing number, a remix of The Clash’s “Train In Vain.”
Madeon’s set was also the subject of a lot of commentary from Porter Robinson on YouTube and Twitter, proving once again that the duo may have the best bromance in EDM.
Once the moment came, though, it seemed clear that Porter Robinson’s set was the main event. The digital auditorium absolutely came alive it transformed into a grassy field and the on-screen effects showed brilliant and visually complex trees and flowers in the aesthetic of his latest single “Something Comforting.”
Robinson provided a lengthy DJ set, which Greene shared was not originally the goal, but it proved too difficult to port the full show designed around the new stuff into the digital space. Robinson’s work in the last several years has been released under the alias Virtual Self, and he previously told Pollstar he had felt more inclined to take his sound in a different directions.
The new stuff, though, is more in the style that thrust him into the spotlight. The Secret Sky set mixed beloved material from his 2014 album Worlds with fresher work.
One part of the set that briefly set the internet ablaze was a pair of features from Lil B, who offered a hook where he repeated Robinson’s name and later performed a freestyle. I’m not very familiar with Lil B’s music and I generally like hip-hop more lyrically complex than what I heard, but he’s beloved by many and his heartfelt words like “It’s OK to cry” and “My name is Lil B and I love you” (over what Twitter user Voia reported was music from the Super Metroid video game franchise) seemed to resonate with a lot of people.
Robinson transitioned very seamlessly between his old and new stuff and even threw in some curveballs, like a remix of Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You.” He closed with a simple, heartfelt message of “THANK YOU SO MUCH AND I LOVE YOU,” capturing the essence of what it seems like he was going for with the whole event: an attempt to bring his fans together and share music he loves and has worked hard on with them, even in a period where we are forcibly physically separated.
Judging by how many little dots I saw jumping around, I’d say people felt the love.