While us lot in the UK were staring glumly at the rain from inside our homes over the weekend, Ariana Grande headlined Fortnite’s interactive Rift Tour, one of the game’s most ambitious virtual concerts yet. Fans all over the world were given the opportunity to experience the pop star’s tantalising stage presence from the comfort of their bedrooms, as her performance doubled up as an interactive adventure.
The concert came complete with mazes, bouncy, colourful clouds, rainbow trails and magical llamas, all of which could be explored while listening to the soulful soundtrack of Grande’s hit songs raindrops, 7 Rings, Be Alright, R.E.M., positions and The Way, featuring her late ex-boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller. While performing the latter, she walked up a floating staircase towards a bright, white light.
In a wholesome turn of events, players can’t hurt each other in the Rift Tour game segments. Instead, they essentially embark on a high-octane, vibrant ride through space and beyond, in an environment that blends real-life and gaming worlds together to transport gamers on a journey that wouldn’t be possible anywhere else.
As the gaming-meets-music mashup progressed, Grande’s character towered over other, regular sized avatars. Clad in a silver, sparkling two-piece and thigh high boots, she swished her signature ponytail against a warm VFX sunset. Her performance – IRL or online – came with a couple of outfit switch-ups too: giant, crystallised fairy wings with an outfit to match, an even bigger crystal swing and a mallet. A useful trinket, it turns out, as Grande has smashed more than a few records with this particular concert.
Yesterday, TikToker Noah Glenn Carter made a video in which he explained that Grande had made video game history, drawing 78 million players to her virtual concert – surpassing Travis Scott’s 11.7 million views for his own Fortnite concert and Lil Nas X’s Roblox performance, which had 33 million viewers.
According to Forbes, it is anticipated that Grande will likely receive tens of millions of dollars and merchandise sales from her Rift Tour stint, while The Independent reported the concert to be a stepping stone in Fortnite’s endeavour to create a “metaverse”, AKA an online 3D space outside of usual gaming parameters.
Either way, virtual events like these legitimise games such as Fortnite as proper spaces for huge musicians such as Grande to extend their reach even further. While VR concerts might not spell the future of live music, they’re a great means of experimenting with the medium.