Travis Scott’s first Fortnite concert was surreal and spectacular

If there’s one thing you can say about Fortnite’s live events, it’s that they keep getting more ambitious. From the original rocket launch to the mech vs. kaiju battle to the black hole that wiped out an entire island, each new event is more elaborate than the last. Now we can say the same is true of the concerts. Last year’s Marshmello show was an exciting, dynamic example of what a virtual concert could look like. This week’s Travis Scott performance blew it out of the water.

Epic had been setting the stage for the concert since last weekend — literally. Over the last few days players could see a stage being constructed at the Sweaty Sands beach, and it grew more complete as the days passed. There was a black stage on top of the water, and multiple gold, inflatable Travis Scott heads around it.

As with past events, the pre-show was a bloodbath, with players killing each other to kill some time. (Thankfully, respawns were in place.) When the show started, players could see a strange planet-like object floating towards them on a circular screen; when it got close enough, everything blew up and the performance started properly.

Really, the entire Fortnite island was the stage. During the opening song a giant Scott stomped around the island, while players could run across the water to catch a glimpse. As the tracks changed, so did the visuals. At one point everything was fiery and Scott turned into a cyborg; later it looked like everyone had been transported to Tron. When “Highest in the Room” came on, the crowd was submerged underwater, along with a giant spaceman. There were rollercoasters and psychedelic effects and at the end players were literally flying around the planet.

The set was short, lasting around 15 minutes. But what I loved was that it was the kind of experience that could only exist in a virtual space like this. Yes, live concerts have become more elaborate, as anyone who has been to an IRL Travis Scott arena show can attest. But they don’t let you float through the air while a Godzilla-sized rapper walks across an ocean.

Epic also appears to have learned some lessons from past events and concerts. For one, once the show started the game’s UI was automatically turned off, letting you get a better view of the trippy visuals. The developer also limited the emotes players could use to keep things on brand. I couldn’t do a kitty dance or anything silly; instead I could headbang or rage with a fiery microphone stand. In a nice touch, you didn’t have to actually own those emotes to use them during the concert.

Perhaps the smartest thing Epic did was make this a tour instead of a concert. Whereas all previous Fortnite events were one-offs, the Scott concert I attended was the first of five. If you missed it, there are plenty of other chances to get in. (For more on how to watch, check out our guide.) It opens up the event to a larger audience around the world.

Last year’s Marshmello concert was a huge success; more than 10 million people attended, according to Epic, making it Fortnite’s largest ever event. With multiple shows, a more elaborate performance, a bigger name performer, and a captive audience stuck inside with nothing to do, Travis Scott’s virtual tour has the potential to top that. The question, really, is how much more surreal Epic can make its next digital concert series.

Comments

Calling this a concert is stupid. The artist isn’t there and the tracks are just the studio versions. It’s basically playing Spotify in the background while playing a video game.

I’d call it an elaborate music video, rather.

Yup – I thought the exact same thing, I was expecting more, but was pleasantly surprised at the cool visuals, and experience of it.

You know what else had cool visuals that played with pre-recorded tracks? Winamp and iTunes.

Concert? Nah. That’s pretty cool that they’re doing it at that scale, but please call it what it is. There’s a lot of vernacular for this.

That’s an in-game event, a level, a campaign, or free DLC. Happenings unique to videogames. Hell, even go with ‘performance’. I guess the "setting" is inspired by concert, but if we’re going to make that leap then is The Beatles: Rock Band a concert?

It’s too bad this wasn’t made available in VR. There are actual but seldom VR concerts (artist present, live stream audio) and on-demand VR performances with live players in the space already (Imogen Heap,etc).

Fortnite just keeps innovating and pushing boundaries. Keep it up! I hope to see these kinds of experiments more often.

Without VR I’m not sure I get it… And if it’s just playing out the studio tracks over animations isn’t it a interactive music video not a concert? There is something to be said about getting the community together to experience a single moment sure, especially now, but it isn’t a concert.

I thought this sounded lame when I first heard about it. But after watching this on youtube, I’m impressed. Props to hem for what they did with the visuals and in game mechanics, having to run around the map to follow the action looked fun.

Only disappointment is that the audio was a studio track, would have been great if they could record something unique, or even better if it could be performed live in real time.

People are real pedants on this comment section lol. Call it a concert, a music video, an experience, whatever suits your bill. But this was pretty cool

That was fun! Had the whole house shaking and the visuals were fun. Kids loved it!

As someone who doesn’t know the ins and outs of Fortnite it would be nice to see a "for dummies tutorial" on how these work. Do you have to go to a certain part of the game’s map? I keep reading millions of people attend, is this an MMO type of thing where you’re surrounded by millions of players?

The game forces you onto a certain part of the map, and you’re attending with 47 other people (there’s no way a server can handle this performance and millions of players at once). They get to the millions number by counting the hundreds of thousands of fully concurrent instances.

Call me old but my idea of a concert is making a new friend in the pit, hitting the random joint going around, and having a ring in my ears for the next three days.

I agree with you on this not being a true concert experience, but seeing the current pandemic, this is as great as a concert can be RN.

Sorry to activate dad mode, but that ringing in your ears is part of your hearing dying, forever. Please wear earplugs to shows, and then you can still enjoy music later in life. Good ones (not the pharmacy foam kind) don’t affect sound quality, only reduce decibels.

You’re speaking to a dad and trust me, I know. I’ve definitely done irreparable damage to my hearing from all the shows and night clubs when I was younger. Do I regret it? Not really.

That’s why I always wear my foamies at concerts. With my decades of playing drums, bass, and guitar and cranking up my amps louder than I probably should’ve, plus being exposed to ridiculously loud aircraft engines when I was an aircraft maintenance technician in the Air Force, it’s probably a miracle that my hearing has held up as well as it has. So I’d like to keep it that way.

I finally watched this on YouTube last night at my friend’s urging, and it absolutely blew my mind. I’m old and have never played Fortnite, and I’ve never really been that into hip-hop so I didn’t even know who Travis Scott is, but I was still completely blown away by this. Just amazing.

I highly recommend listening to it thru a really good set of speakers or headphones, because the sound quality is quite good and that bass is slamming.

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