#Livingroomtoday is fostering community amidst COVID

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By Quentin Zimbalist

Created in 2015 as a way to connect internet friends via art and comedy, Livingroomtoday eventually became a “Cohesively organized, simultaneous IRL/virtual event bringing together musical performances,” according to Michael Brown, a longtime listener. Discontinued after 2017, the series was recently revived by New York-based videographer and event planner Nick Blanco. I attended the March 26th concert, and after its fashionably late start, I had a great night watching a stream filled with surprises

Antwerp-based Nah, the first artist of the night, broadcast his performance from Philadelphia. Using only a drum machine and a Roland SP-404 sampler, Nah performed a 20-minute, continuous, 150 BPM dance track. My headphones were filled with the heavy four-on-the-floor groove as I grew more and more interested. The Zoom call was broadcast live via Twitch. As each performer played, you could see the reaction and interaction from the other participants. As Nah’s set came to a close, the audience erupted with both actual and soundboard clapping, and the Twitch chat was flooded with celebration.

The next performance was a duet between an upright bass player and a vocalist, only identified as “Guido” on the flyer (but as Kevin and Ellie on the Livingroomtoday website). First, Kevin played a lengthy and impressive solo that was both passionate and improvisational. Then he and Ellie launched into a medley of Lucinda Williams songs. It should probably be noted at this point that Livinroomtoday is not recognized for its production values, but for its dedicated performers. Kevin and Ellie’s may have been Zoom-with-no-headphones quality, but it did not matter at that moment. Again, the duo was met with virtual applause. 

Next up was The Loosie Man, a member of the now platinum, producer collective Working On Dying. I am always pleasantly surprised to find songs produced by the collective when scouring the internet. The Philadelphia-based collective’s discography seems endless, including countless artists and everything from the underground to smash hits. They recently produced a good portion of Grammy-nominated artist Lil Uzi Vert’s newest album Eternal Atake. The Loosie Man’s set was interesting and clean, featuring underground classics and sleeper hits by of SICKBOYRARI, Chief Keef, OJ da Juiceman, DJ Lucas and Young Thug. Throughout the set, Loosie was utilizing Zoom’s screen share feature to show intense visuals — like hockey fight compilations. After such a refreshing set, the tone of the night shifted again.

New York City-based filmmaker Whitney Mallet took center screen next, reciting a series of haiku. Her set was interesting, not only because she popped a balloon after each poem, but because her haikus did not follow the 5-7-5 format. The 3-5-3 syllable versions she wrote were hilarious, and made a great transition into a surprise Eyedress set. 

Eyedress (Idris Vucña) is an Indie rock singer from the Philippines currently living in California who recently launched an experimental hip-hop project, Codeine Tear$. He performed his rock set in front of a green screen, which featured a lightly clouded sky and the word Eyedress, written inside the Enterprise rent-a-car logo. I had a harder time getting into this one, probably because I was tired. (I ended up falling asleep right after the set, despite there being many more performances to come.)

I was excited earlier this week when I received an email invitation to the next iteration of Livingroomtoday on Thursday, April 23rd at 10pm. I will be able to experience the beauty of art via modern communication software directly through the Zoom meeting, rather than a Twitch livestream. I hope that everyone reading this can tune in.

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