While countries across the globe continue to wrestle with the coronavirus pandemic, in-person concerts and festivals seem worlds away, but for New Zealand, this is once again reality. With the approaching Nov. 13 release of her album Hey u x, singer-songwriter BENEE held a sold-out concert at New Zealand’s Spark Arena on Oct. 17, simultaneously livestreaming the sublime experience to fans all over the world.
Concertgoers were undeniably treated to an exhilarating atmosphere of live music. Virtual viewers were provided with modified perks, such as a chat board with fellow watchers and an online merchandise store. These fans were also able to rewatch the concert on demand for up to 48 hours. Cameras surrounding the venue captured images of BENEE dancing on stage and eager fans singing along to every lyric. While a livestream does not replace the thrill of attending a concert in person, BENEE’s enchanting performance shined successfully through computer screens.
To open, BENEE played “Tough Guy” and “Wishful Thinking,” a smooth, feel-good ease into the night with a midtempo rhythm. She then debuted a single off her new album, called “All the Time,” featuring Muroki. In the last month, Olive, BENEE’s record label, signed Muroki, and he has been accompanying her as an opening act on tour. The duet had an acoustic undertone combined with the two’s contrasting voices colliding swimmingly.
Moonlit Halloween aesthetics set a mesmerizing, mysterious scene for the night, cleverly matching with BENEE’s space cat ears. Leafless trees framed the center of the stage, with pictures on the stage backdrop featuring mirrored silhouette images. For her performance of “Drifting,” BENEE made a quick costume change from her leather loungewear to an astronaut suit. Once the song ended, she humorously admitted to how hot she was while wearing it.
Between songs, BENEE unapologetically flaunted parts of her happy-go-lucky personality. From strolling back and forth across the stage to laughing and joking around wholeheartedly, her warm charisma lifted the spirits of those watching. On a more personal level, BENEE conversed with her concert audience by asking them what costumes they came dressed as — some responses included a blade of grass and a Teletubby — and even urging her fans to vote. Toward the end of the concert, she cheered happily to the breaking news of New Zealand’s prime minister’s reelection.
BENEE occasionally touched on the inspiration behind her music. “Monsta” was written due to her genuine fear of getting taken at night once she had moved out of her parents’ home. “Happen to Me,” the first (currently unreleased) song off her upcoming album, was inspired by her worries of unpredictable things happening. When BENEE shared her songwriting process, it humanized her and allowed her to connect on a deeper level with fans.
As the concert progressed, BENEE teased more singles off her new album. One included “If I Get to Meet You,” a more mellow song compared to the other energetic songs she performed, such as “Find an Island” or “Evil Spider.” The song placed a spotlight on BENEE’s breathy vocals with subtle instrumental support. The diversity in song dynamic captured a glimpse of BENEE’s upcoming album’s versatile nature.
Occasionally, BENEE acknowledged fans who were tuning in to her concert from home. In-person attendees looked around the venue for cameras to wave hello at, creating a welcoming and inclusive feeling for virtual concert fans. Toward the end of the night, BENEE performed “Supalonely,” the single that achieved international social media success and propelled her popularity tenfold. BENEE’s performance of “Snail” concluded the show on a vibrant note as she gracefully receded and thanked all of her fans for coming and watching.
While it may be a long time, unfortunately, until in-person concerts resume for all countries, BENEE’s energy in her livestreamed performance memorably transcended into the hearts of all fans no matter where they were.