Scorched Earth Festival

Who says men can’t multitask? While working on some reviews last night, I was also hanging out at a music festival in a dusty junkyard.

Scorched Earth Festival, The Wastelands, Second Life

As you’ve probably guessed, Scorched Earth (the music festival in question) took place in Second Life, so it was easier for me to work and hang out than it would have been at the fields-and-tents type of gig. That’s yours truly on the far left, stood on the pile of slagged tyres.

The venue was The Junkyard, on a patch of land just south of my own virtual pied-a-terre. The Junkyard is the second of the two sims that make up The Wastelands, a post-apocalyptic themed RPG sim. As a casual visitor to Second Life, I was utterly repelled by the shiny bling-ness of the mainland, so when I finally found somewhere that fitted with my own rather grungy and wrecked aesthetic tastes, I settled there immediately.

To tell the truth, most of the music wasn’t really to my taste. Paranoid Foundation specialised in a sort of droning beatless elctronica, complete with mumbled ketamine vocals, and the Redzone DJ set was fairly murky also – I felt the absence of drums and guitars quite keenly, rock fan that I am. Bela Emerson was a rare act, however – one girl, one cello, and a whole bunch of effects pedals. 

Bela Emerson live at the Scorched Earth Festival, Second Life

Her music was a landscape of sculpted and sampled bass tones, jittering and looping around themselves, building up and collapsing into nothingness. Again, not my normal thing, but intriguing. It’s good to step out of the musical comfort zone once in a while. It certainly fitted the ambience of the sim!

To be quite honest though, a large part of the festival’s appeal was the chance to hang out with some of my virtual neighbours, and some visiting oddballs from other places in SL. The Wastelands isn’t a clubby sim, or prone to events that attract large groups of people. It’s a quiet neighbourhood, really (unless a fight breaks out over a good piece of salvage), and it’s rare you get many more than five or six people chatting together at any one time. Scorched Earth acted as a nexus, though, and so it ended up being a bit of a social more than anything else, at least for me:

Scorched Earth Festival, The Wastelands, Second Life

What interests me most about this sort of event is their potential. They’re very clunky at the moment; SL is far from being a mature piece of software, and the streaming of audio and video is still a fairly arcane process that relies as much on luck and the alignments of planets than any skill with code. But give it a couple of years (and an open-source peer-to-peer version of the SL server software), and you’re going to see virtual festivals that will make Burning Man look like the Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

I mean, look at that picture above; that’s a dolphin at the left edge. When was the last festival at which you saw a flying dolphin wearing flourescent beads on its tail while talking about the finer points of electronic manipulation of cello tones? And what had you ingested to achieve such a state? 😉

Welcome to Second Life; the frontier of an unevenly distributed future.

2 thoughts on “Scorched Earth Festival”

  1. Bela Emerson is great – I saw her a few years back. Definitely one of Brighton’s more unusual acts… 🙂

  2. Glad you made it to the Event..shame you missed both of our live sets 🙁

    Overall it went very well, and we’d like to thank the Wastelands crew once again for all of their help and cooperation in staging Scorched Earth.

    Here’s to next year 🙂

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