Band on the rug

The band Real Estate launches virtual 'quarantour' web app

After postponing their tour, the indie rockers are turning to augmented reality to reach fans.

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Real Estate’s spring tour for its most recent album The Main Thing was over before it started thanks to social distancing efforts throughout the country. Though the band is working on rescheduling its April and May concerts, it decided to tide fans over with something different. Real Estate’s Quarantour can be experienced in your phone or tablet’s browser, Rolling Stone reports. And, thanks to the wonders of augmented reality, you can set the stage anywhere in your home and get a front-row seat.

Digital concerts — The Quarantour is a noble effort, but one that's slightly marred by the less-than-stellar graphics and the pre-recorded nature of the show. If you want to set aside the time to watch the entire set, a tablet is preferable, or at least a kickstand case for your phone. For those of you who record the whole show from the front, though, holding onto your phone and zooming in actually provides a similar experience to looking up at the stage through your screen, except this way you can do it without annoying the people behind you. So that's a win.

While other musicians have turned to Twitch or Instagram Live, mostly for charity fundraising efforts, and entertainers of all sorts have sought to use technology to help them stay employed and financially afloat, this is a surprisingly unique approach that employs existing technology to solve an unprecedented challenge. The pre-recorded nature means you don't have to worry about tuning in at the right time for a live stream, but it does diminish some of the charms of a live show.

A use for VR? — Ideally, the music industry will find a middle ground: an experience that feels like being at a venue and maintains the interactive elements of a live show but that consumers can experience on-demand. Perhaps we should dust off the Oculus Quest in anticipation because at this rate it looks unlikely we'll be going to any gigs this year. We're all for whatever means artists can use to keep us — and themselves — entertained. Especially if they don't involve Ticketmaster.